Notes on 1 Kings
1:1-53 - David’s reign was coming to an end. He would be replaced by Solomon (30). No one goes on forever. Every day takes us one day closer to the day of stepping down and handing over to someone else. We must pray that the future will be ‘greater’ than the past (37,47). Some kings reign for a long time. Some reign for a short time. The important thing is not the length of time. It’s the quality of the leadership. Have the people been brought closer to the Lord? This is what matters more than anything else. In all the changes of life, we must learn to say, ‘Blessed be the Lord’ (48). We do not trust in this man or that man. We trust in the Lord. David’s time was almost gone. Solomon’s time would come and go. When all God’s servants have slipped into the past, one thing will remain true - ‘the Lord lives’ (29).
2:1-46 - God’s purpose does not stand still. It moves forward. This was a new beginning for God’s people. Solomon was not to do his own thing. He was to do God’s will: ‘Keep the charge of the Lord your God’ (3). He was to serve God’s purpose: ‘that the Lord may establish His Word’ (4). There are to be no comparisons between one man and another. God’s servants are not to be in competition with one another. Some may have been looking back to the past - ‘How will we manage without David? God had already moved on from there. He was pressing on to the future - ‘If your sons…’ (4). God’s blessing would not come easily. There were obstacles to be removed (13-46). If ‘the Word of Christ’ is to ‘dwell in us richly’, we must ‘put to death what is earthly in us’ (Colossians 3:5,16). God will not bless us if we do not obey Him.
3:1-28 - Solomon was a complicated man. We wonder what was most important to him - his alliances with the world or his allegiance to the Lord, ‘building his own house’ or ‘building the House of the Lord’ (1-3)? In verses 9-13, we learn that Solomon prized wisdom more than riches. In verse 14, Solomon is reminded that he must keep on loving the Lord: ‘If you will walk in My ways…’. We look at Solomon. We see ourselves. We claim to love the Lord. The world has a ‘fatal attraction’ for us. In each of us, there is conflict, a lifelong conflict between ‘the desires of the flesh’ and ‘the desires of the Spirit’. We are faced with a choice. Will it be love for the Lord or love for the world? Don’t ‘abandon your first love’ (Galatians 5:17; 1 John 2:15; Revelation 2:4). Make it simple: Jesus comes first!
4:1-34 - ‘God gave Solomon wisdom’ (29). Solomon shared this wisdom with others (32-34). Christ is ‘our Wisdom’ (1 Corinthians 1:30). Don’t keep Him to yourself. You may not know much about ‘trees… beasts… birds… reptiles… fish’ (33). If you know Jesus, you know all that you really need to know! You can live a happy life without knowing much about history, geography, science…. You cannot have true happiness without knowing Jesus. He came to give us abundant life (John 10:10). You can teach others about many different subjects. You will not help them to find true happiness if you are not telling them about Jesus. The most important lesson is really very simple: ‘Jesus loves me…’ (Church Hymnary, 418). Will you share this lesson with others? You can’t give them anything better than this: the love of Jesus.
5:1-6:13 - Do you ‘rejoice greatly’ when you hear the Word of the Lord (5:7)? God wants to ‘establish His Word’ among us (6:12). He wants to establish His presence among us. He is ‘the Word made flesh’. He ‘dwells among us, full of grace and truth’. He is ‘Emmanuel’ - ‘God with us’ (John 1:14; Matthew 1:23). As you read about the building of the temple, remember God’s Word: ‘You are God’s temple… God’s Spirit lives in you… God’s temple is holy… you are that temple… your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you… We are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will live among them…’(1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16). ‘A dwelling place of God in the Spirit’ - That’s what you are (Ephesians 2:22)!
6:14-7:12 - Solomon took seven years to build ‘the House of the Lord’ and ‘thirteen years’ to build ‘his own house’ (6:37-7:1)! What are we to make of this? Are we more concerned with pleasing ourselves or serving God? Is our life more self-centred than God-centred? These are important questions. They are questions which we cannot sweep under the carpet. Jesus invites us to think about our priorities: Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also… No one can serve two masters… You cannot serve both God and Money’ (Matthew 6:19-21,24). We are not to be ‘lovers of self, lovers of money… lovers of pleasure! We are to be ‘lovers of God’ (2 Timothy 3:1-5). What kind of person are you becoming ? Each of us must choose.
7:13-8:13 - We read about ‘the silver’ and ‘the gold’. We are called to choose between the life of fruitful service - ‘gold, silver, precious stones’ - and the unfruitful life - ‘wood, hay, straw’ (51; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). We read of ‘the ark of the covenant of the Lord’ being ‘brought to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the House, in the most holy place. We are told that the glory of the Lord filled the House of the Lord’ (6,11). The glory of the Lord fills the House of the Lord whenever the Word of God is honoured by the people of God. Jesus Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1,14). The glory of the Lord fills the House of the Lord when Christ is given the place of highest honour among the people of God. Do you want to experience God’s glory? Honour His Word. Love His Son - the Lord Jesus Christ.
8:14-53 - The person who leads us in worship, the place where we worship or the God whom we worship - Which is the most important? We know what our answer should be. No person or place is more important than the Lord. Often, we take our eyes off the Lord. Solomon directs our attention to the Lord. Leading ‘all the assembly of Israel’ in worship, he says, ‘Blessed be the Lord’ (14-15). The glory does not belong to Solomon. It belongs to the Lord. In his prayer, Solomon contrasts the place where we worship with the God whom we worship: ‘Heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee; how much less this House which I have built!’ (27). We must think big thoughts about God. He is ‘the God of Israel’ (15,17,20,23,25-26). He is more than that. He is our God. He loves all nations (Isaiah 45:22; 49:6; Acts 13:47; John 3:16).
8:54-9:28 - What is happening when we are gathered together for worship? Is this merely a human thing, something which we do? No! - There is something more. God is at work. He is there to ‘incline our hearts to Him…’(58). Before we have gathered, God is there, waiting for us, ready to speak His Word: ‘Let your heart be wholly true to the Lord your God…’ (61). God wants us to be holy. He wants us to be wholly true to Him. Holiness is no ‘kill joy’ affair. It is a life of joy and gladness (66). There is here a very important lesson: Seek holiness and you will find happiness. Seek happiness in yourself and you will not find it: ‘If you turn aside from following Me’, you ‘will become a heap of ruins’ (6-8). What a mess we make of things when we forget about God! Let’s ‘walk before Him with integrity of heart’ (4).
10:1-11:13 - ‘King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth’ (23). It sounds impressive - until you look more closely at Solomon’s life! What else does God’s Word tell us about him? - ‘His heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God… Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely… His heart had turned away from the Lord… Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command’ (11:4,6,9-10). When everything seems to be going well, God invites us to look beneath the surface, to look a little deeper. Great words had been spoken about Solomon (10:9). Now, everything had gone sour. Solomon had lost the place. This can happen to any of us. We can lose our way. Read the story of Solomon as a warning: Don’t let this happen to you! Stay close to God.
11:14-12:24 - Life can be a very slippery slope. You can go downhill very quickly - if you’re not careful! Solomon let things slide - and he was never the same again. He fell - and he never got back up again. After he died, there was ‘rebellion’ - and it lasted for a long time (12:9). It was bedlam. Chaos reigned. The people couldn’t agree among themselves. Everybody was pointing the finger at somebody else. What did God have to say about all this? - ‘Do not go up to fight against your brothers…’ (12:24). God’s Word seems so simple. We’re the ones who make everything so complicated - when we’re looking out for ourselves, when we’re forgetting to listen for God’s Word. We need to stop giving off - ‘This is what I think’. We need to start listening. What are others saying? What is the Lord saying?
12:25-13:34 - These were dark days for God’s people. They were deeply divided. There was the northern kingdom (Israel). Jeroboam was their ‘big man’. There was the southern kingdom (Judah). Rehoboam was the ‘voice’ of the south. What a shambles it all was! Each side seemed intent on outdoing the other - ungodliness. Sin reigned in the north (13:33-34). Sin reigned in the south (14:22-24). The ‘big man’ was not so big in the eyes of the Lord. The ‘voice’ did not speak the Word of the Lord. Was there any hope? Yes! There was an unnamed ‘man of God’ who spoke ‘the Word of the Lord’ (13:1). In all the confusion of these difficult times, God was planning for a better future. His Word concerned Josiah: ‘a son shall be born…’ (2). We look beyond Josiah to Jesus: ‘to us a Child is born… a Son…’ (Isaiah 9:6-7).
14:1-15:8 - It makes depressing reading - a lot of bad news from the north (16), a lot of bad news from the south (22). Many people wondered, ‘Will there be peace in my lifetime?’. Sadly, the hostilities continued for a very long time (15:6). Were there no glimmers of hope? Was there no light at the end of the tunnel? Had God given up on the situation? There is a Word of hope: ‘The Lord will raise up for Himself a king…’ (14). There is good news. God is raising up ‘an army of ordinary people, a kingdom where love is the key’. What part can God’s ‘ordinary people’ play in His extraordinary purpose? - A very important part: ‘The Church is here for healing of the nations’ (Songs of Fellowship, 20,216). Can there be healing? Yes! - if there is love. Don’t give up hope: ‘May the God of hope…’(Romans 15:13)!
15:9-16:28 - A lot of kings are mentioned here. We soon lose track of their names. With one solitary exception, they are all better forgotten than remembered. Thank God for the one glimmer of light: ‘Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord… The heart of Asa was wholly true to the Lord all his days’ (15:11, 14). We need more people like Asa. God is looking foe people who will stand out from the crowd, people who will dare to be different. Pleasing the Lord is more important than pleasing people. It is so easy to forget this. We want to be popular. This is all that matters to us. If we are serious about following Jesus, we must be prepared to go it alone: ‘Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow’ (Mission Praise, 272). Let’s honour God - in our attitudes and actions.
16:29-18:16 - Things were getting desperate: ‘Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him’ (33). What did God do about this? How did He respond to this situation? God sent His prophet, a man who would stand up for God against Ahab. ‘When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him’ (Isaiah 59:19). Where did Elijah come from? He came from God! All we know about Elijah’s early life is expressed in the words: ‘Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead’. There is something else we know about him. He was a man of God. He was a man with a message, a man who spoke in the Name of the Lord the God of Israel’ (17:1). Things happened when Elijah was around. This was the Spirit of God at work - in power!
18:17-19:21 - Life is full of ups and downs. For Elijah, there was a very high point. He prayed. ‘The fire of the Lord fell’. ‘All the people said, ‘The Lord, He is God’’ (37-39). This was followed by a very low point: ‘O Lord, take away my life’ (4). We are so changeable. Often, we feel like we are being torn apart. Our emotions pull us in different directions. Sometimes, we are full of joy. At other times, we are at the point of despair. We find ourselves in a turmoil of confused emotions. What are we to do? Are we to ‘pull ourselves together’? This seems to be the very thing we can’t manage to do. Are we to ‘hope for the best’ - ‘Some day, some way, things will get better’? We think about this, and we wonder, ‘What happens if things get worse?’! Look to the Lord. His love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable.
20:1-43 - Sometimes we say, ‘I can’t’, when we mean, ‘I won’t’! We are ‘busy here and there’ - too busy for God, for doing His will, for obeying His Word. Is this a case of ‘I can’t’? No! It is ‘I won’t’. We choose. We decide how we will use our time. God looks at our life. He sees what is most important to us and He says, ‘You yourself have decided it’. He sees that our choices have been self-centred rather than Christ-centred. He says, ‘So shall your judgment be’ (40). Can we change? Yes! God says, ‘Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do’ (12). There is a decision to be made. We must be obedient to God’s Word: ‘Be strong in the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:10). Our strength is not in ourselves. It is in the Lord. Wait on the Lord and renew your strength (Isaiah 40:31). ‘Strengthen yourself’ - in the Lord.
21:1-22:14 - We read of human sin and divine judgment (21:1-4,15-16,20-24). There is also something else here: the mercy of God - ‘Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days…’(29). The judgment of God will come - but not yet. It is held back by the mercy of God. We live in confusing times. There is much evidence of sin. There are some signs of repentance. What are the servants of the Lord to say? Is there a single message, a Word of judgment, a Word of mercy? Here is what we must say: ‘What the Lord says to me, that I will speak’(22:14). Let us not settle for a one-sided message - preaching judgment without a glimmer of hope, promising mercy without issuing the Gospel warning. May God help us to be like Paul: ‘I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God’ (Acts 20:27).
22:15-53 - Ahab’s repentance (21:27) didn’t last long! He continued to live in sin (22:8). He died in shame (37-38). Ahab’s son - Ahaziah - was just like his father - ‘a chip off the old block’: ‘He … provoked the Lord, the God of Israel to anger in every way that his father had done’ (51-53). Jehoshapat was a different type of king - ‘he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord’ (43). Here, we catch a glimpse of our Lord Jesus Christ - ‘I do as the Father commanded Me’ (John 14:31). Don’t be like Ahaziah -‘he walked in the ways of his father… the ways of sin’ (52). Let’s be like Jesus - Walking in the ways of our Heavenly Father. God says to us, ‘This is the way; walk in it’ (Isaiah 30:21). Let us say, ‘As for God, His way is perfect’ (2 Samuel 22:31). Let us pray, ‘Our Father in heaven… Your will be done (Matthew 6:9-10).