Why Study Kings

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Introduction

First and Second Kings is the second in a series of three double books: 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles. Originally, the double books were single books—one book of Samuel, one of Kings, and one of Chronicles. The Septuagint translators were the ones who made the divisions, and they did so more or less for the convenience of the reader. I think that it probably was a very wise decision.

Although the writer is unknown, 1 and 2 Kings were written while the first temple was still standing (1 Kings 8:8). Jeremiah is considered to be the traditional writer, while modern scholarship assigns the authorship to “the prophets.”

The theme of these two Books of Kings is found in this expression that occurs nine times in 1 Kings: “as David his father.” In other words, we are following the line of David, and each king was measured by the standard set by David. Very frankly, it was a human standard, and it was not the highest standard in the world. But we find that king after king failed to attain even to it. Thank God there were those who did measure up to it. However, we will find that this section of Scripture is a sorry and sordid section. It is history, and it reveals the decline and fall of the kingdom: first the kingdom was divided, and then each kingdom fell.

There are key verses that summarize the thrust of these two books. The first key verses describe the decline and fall of the northern kingdom: “For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day” (2 Kings 17:22–23).

The second key verse describes the fall of the southern kingdom: “And the king of Babylon smote them, and slew them at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was carried away out of their land” (2 Kings 25:21).

In 1 Kings we have the record of the division of the kingdom, and 2 Kings records the collapse of the kingdom. Considering the two books as a unit, they open with King David, and they close with the king of Babylon. They are the book of man’s rule over God’s kingdom—and the results are not good, of course. The throne on earth must be in tune with the throne in heaven if blessings are to come and benefits are to accrue to God’s people. Yet man’s plan cannot overthrow God’s purposes, as we shall see.

First and Second Kings are actually a continuation of the narrative that was begun in First and Second Samuel. These four books can be considered as a whole since they trace the history of the nation from the time of its greatest extension, influence, and prosperity under David and Solomon to the division, then captivity and exile of both kingdoms.

The moral teaching of these books is to show man his inability to rule himself and the world. In these four historical books we get a very graphic view of the rise and fall of the kingdom of Israel.

(McGee, J. Vernon. Thru the Bible Commentary, Vol. 13: 1 & 2 Kings. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991.)

Poems & Quotes

1 Kings 8:44–10:22

"The soul is on its knees many times, regardless of the posture of the body."
          –Attributed to Victor Hugo

1 Kings 16:30–18:17

"God creates out of nothing. Until a man recognizes that he is nothing, God can do nothing with him."
          –Martin Luther

1 Kings 18:17-46

"One with God is a majority."
          –Martin Luther

2 Kings 6

"Madam, can you mention anything in your life that's big to God?"
          –Dr. G. Campbell Morgan's response when asked, "Do you think we should pray about the little things in our lives?"

2 Kings 11 & 12

"I cannot see anywhere in Scripture that revival of the true church is contrary to the will of God."
          –Dr. Griffith Thomas

"There is no such teaching in Scripture that revival is contrary to the will of God."
          –Dr. R.A. Torrey

"We recall nothing in the epistles justifying the conclusion that the experiences of the early church may not be repeated today."
          –Dr. James M. Gray

2 Kings 20

"One thing I have discovered in the last few days. When a Christian is suddenly confronted with the sentence of death, he surely begins to give a proper evaluation of material things: my fishing gear, and books, and orchard are not nearly so valuable as they were a week ago."
          –Excerpt from a letter from Dr. McGee's friend after having been diagnosed with terminal cancer