Tuesday, May 31, 2011

1 Kings

This book begins with David as an old man. He is brought a young woman named Abishag to care for him and keep him warm. David does not have sex with her. During this time, Adonijah, one of David's sons, allies himself with Joab and Abiathar the priest, and others and announces himself as king. David is informed of this, and he announces Solomon is to be anointed king. Adonijah begs for mercy from Solomon, and Solomon gives it as long as, "...he is a worthy man, not one of his hairs will fall to the ground." Before David dies, he has a few instructions for Solomon. He tells Solomon to be strong and live in obedience to God. He instructs him to carry out judgment on Joab and Shimei, and he is to reward the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite.

David dies. Adonijah requests Abishag as a wife. Solomon discerns why he wants her(to legitimize a claim to the throne), and he declares his actions have brought about Adonijah's death. Solomon has him killed. Solomon also removes Abiathar from serving as a priest for siding with Adonijah. This fulfills the prophecy about the house of Eli from First Samuel. He declares Joab is to be executed for his murders. Joab tries to obtain mercy by clinging to the altar. Solomon has him killed while still clinging. Finally, Solomon orders Shimei to stay in his home town, or he will be executed also. Shimei agrees. Three years later, Shimei breaks their agreement and is killed. Solomon's kingdom is established.

Solomon marries Pharoah's daughter. In the midst of worshipping God and offering sacrifices, Solomon interacts with God in a dream. God offers Solomon anything he wants. Solomon requests wisdom and discernment to govern well. God is pleased and grants his request along with riches and honor. Solomon demonstrates his profound wisdom with two women who both claim to be the mother of the same baby. Solomon's officials and deputies are listed. The peace and prosperity of Solomon's reign, for the government as well as the people, is elaborated on. Also, Solomon's wisdom becomes known far and wide. Solomon strikes a deal and friendsip with Hiram, the king of Tyre, to get timber for the temple and organizes the labor to begin building it.

Solomon begins building the temple 480 years after Israel comes out of Egypt. The materials and processes used are spelled out in some detail. It is finished after 7 and 1/2 years. Solomon also builds his own palace during this time. It takes a total of 13 years. He recruits Hiram, a man from Tyre(not the king of Tyre), to do much of the detail work within the temple. Solomon also makes all the furniture in the temple including golden altar, golden table for the bread of the presence, the lampstands made of gold, and various instruments and decor used within the temple made of gold. The ark is brought into the temple. The entire place is filled with a thick cloud of God's presence. Solomon speaks to and blesses the people. Solomon dedicates the temple in prayer and pleads to God for his justice, provision, protection, and forgiveness toward Israel when they pray to Him from this temple or even when facing toward it. Solomon finishes his prayer with a blessing and a charge to be loyal and obedient to God. Finally, they offer sacrifices and have a feast to celebrate the dedication of the temple.

After the dedication, God speaks to Solomon. He says he has heard Solomon's prayer and has consecrated the temple and vows his eyes and heart will be there perpetually. God also sternly warns Solomon of the consequences of departing from following Him. Solomon gives twenty cities to Hiram, king of Tyre, for his help in building the temple and palace. The forced labor that was used is described in some detail. None of the slaves were Israelites. Solomon offers offerings three times per year on the altar. Solomon also builds a fleet of ships. They were used to bring wealth from overseas. Solomon gets a visit from the Queen of Sheba. She has heard of his wisdom. After hearing it first hand, she praises him and God, and she gives him spices and other wealth. Wealth begins pouring in from all over the known world. He gains rare woods, animals, gold, etc.

Solomon disobeys God and is lead astray by his many foreign wives. God pronounces judgment against him. All but one of the tribes will be taken from him, but it will not happen during Solomon's lifetime, but it will happen during his son's reign. God also raises up adversaries to Israel as judgment. Jeroboam, son of Nebat, flees to Egypt after he is told by a prophet from God that he will rule ten tribes of Israel. Solomon dies. Rehoboam, Solomon's son, becomes king. He chooses to speak and act harshly to the people. This leads to a fulfillment of the prophecy from God regarding the loss of ten of the tribes of Israel to him. Jeroboam chooses to create two golden calves for the people to worship. He also creates his own feast and names his own priests from various peoples not of the tribe of Levi. He did this because the temple was located in Jerusalem within Judah. He feared a loss of the loyalty of the people if they had to worship in Jerusalem. Jeroboam is told by a prophet of God of an impending judgment. Jeroboam commands to have him seized, but Jeroboam's hand immediately is leprous as he points at the prophet. Jeroboam begs for mercy, and the prophet prays for him, and he is healed. Another prophet lies and claims God told him to invite the first prophet home to eat. However, God gave explicit instructions to the first prophet not to go anywhere but home and not to eat anything. Unfortunately, the first prophet places his trust in the second prophet and disobeys God's explicit instructions that came directly to him. The second prophet then has a genuine word from the Lord declaring the death of the first prophet for his disobedience. Jeroboam still does not repent of his idols and false priesthood even after his leprous hand and another sign confirmed the word of the prophet to him. Jeroboam's coming judgment is foretold to his wife by a prophet named Ahijah. Jeroboam dies, and his son Nadab becomes king.

Meanwhile, Judah engages in many sinful behaviors under the reign of Rehoboam. they are invaded, and the king of Egypt takes treasures from the temple and the king's house. Rehoboam dies, and his son, Abijam, becomes king. Abijam only rules three years and does wickedly. Asa, Abijam's son, becomes king after Abijam dies. Asa leads Judah into a time of repentance and renewal. He reigns forty-one years. Asa allies himself with the king of Aram to defeat Israel. Upon Asa's death, his son Jehoshaphat reigns as king of Judah.

During this same time period in Israel, Nadab reigns only two years. He does evil, and he is killed by Baasha. Baasha wipes out Jeroboam's entire family. This fulfills God's judgment against Jeroboam for leading Israel into such a great sin. God issues a judgment against Baasha because he adopts the same sinful practices instituted by Jeroboam. Baasha dies, and his son, Elah, becomes king. Elah's commander named Zimri kills Elah and his entire family in his second year. He fulfills God's promised judgment on Baasha's family. Omri becomes the next king of Israel. He follows in Jeroboam's sinful ways also. He reigns twelve years and dies. His son, Ahab, reigns next. He takes the sinful rebellion to new lows. During this time, Jericho is also rebuilt. The man who rebuilds it does so at the cost of his firstborn while the foundations are being laid, and his youngest son dies near the end of rebuilding it. This fulfills the prophecy in Joshua 6:26.

During Ahab's reign, Elijah, the prophet, shows up on the scene. A drought comes to Israel, but God provides for Elijah. The story of a Sidonian widow who has faith occurs here. God blesses her and her son for trusting in God and Elijah. She is given a "bottomless" bowl of flour and jar of oil until the drought ends. Also, her son dies and is resurrected by Elijah. Next, Elijah has his famous showdown with the prophets of Baal. They create two altars. The prophets of Baal cry out for fire from heaven to consume their sacrifices for hours, but nothing happens (except for Elijah making some hilarious jokes about Baal). Elijah dumps buckets and buckets of water onto his sacrifices, and fire comes down from God and consumes the water and the sacrifices. The people repent of Baal worship, and Elijah has the prophets of Baal brought to him so he can kill them. The drought ends that day.

Elijah flees Jezebel, Ahab's wife. She swears to put him to death. He asks God to take him in death and goes to sleep. An angel provides food and drink for Elijah twice, and he is enabled to walk forty days and nights to Mount Horeb(the mount of God). Elijah cries out to God. God speaks with Elijah. He is told to anoint a new king of Aram, a new king of Israel, and a replacement for himself. The replacement's name is Elisha. Ben-Hadad, the current king of Aram, leads an attack on Israel twice, and Israel is victorious by God's help both times. Ahab chooses to be merciful to Ben-Hadad and releases him. God pronounces judgment against him for this. Ahab covets a man's vineyard, but the man, Naboth, will not sell his vineyard. Ahab sulks about it, and his evil wife creates a plot to have Naboth wrongfully put to death by paying people to lie about him in court. She does this so Ahab can have his vineyard. God issues judgment on Ahab by way of Elijah because of this. Ahab cries out to God and puts on sackcloth and ashes. Because Ahab humbles himself, God gives him a measure of mercy.

After three years of peace with Aram, Ahab wants to go to war with them. He solicits the help of King Jehoshaphat and Judah to fight with him, and Jehoshaphat agrees. Many false prophets tell the king to go to war for he will be successful. Jehoshaphat asks for a word from a real prophet of God. Ahab grudgingly obliges. Micaiah is summoned and goes along with the lie at first. Ahab can tell he is not speaking the truth and demands the truth. Micaiah prophecies defeat and Ahab's death. He is imprisoned. Ahab tries to hide his true identity as king in the battle, but he is hit by a "random" arrow and dies. His son, Ahaziah, reigns in his place and continues to do evil.