I Kings 1:5 “Adonijah the Son of Haggith”
Have you ever felt left out? Adonijah called all of the king’s sons to his coronation party except the one who should have been there. Many were called but few were chosen. In fact there was only one, in this case, who was chosen and that was Solomon. It seems that deep down even Adonijah knew that Jehovah’s choice was Bathsheba’s son (2:15) though we do not know how recently he came to accept the fact. In the plan to usurp the throne he He had the help of David’s chief captain of the host, Joab and of the high priest, Abiathar, he felt that “all Israel set their faces on me that I should reign” (2:15) and even his father David had not discouraged some of his early pretensions (1:5 & 6).
Fortunately there were a handful of good men on the side of right and truth (v.8) and they, led by Nathan the prophet, acted in time to avert a general coup which probably avoided the murder of Solomon and his mother (v.14).
In I Chronicles 22:9 we read that Solomon was God’s choice, among the sons of David, to succeed him to the throne. This had been announced universally (I Chr.28:1) along with the fact that he was also appointed to build the temple. For any of these people to choose to follow Adonijah would certainly be an act of anarchy against Jehovah.
I am reminded in reading this account that we as believers have also been chosen by the King to sit with Him in His throne. Though there is certainly a conspiracy against us of major proportions and having diabolical designs, as Luther put it, the right Man is on our side, praise the Lord. Yes, we have been chosen in Him before the foundation of the world. Hallelujah (Ephesians 1:4)!
1Kings 2:44 Prone to Wander
Do you remember Shimei (Shim-e-i)? He was the fellow who blatantly cursed David and threw stones at him as he fled Jerusalem and from his son Absalom (II Sam.16:5). At the time of David’s restoration, Abishai, Joab’s brother, had suggested that he should be executed for such behavior but David forbad it (19:23) yet left word with Solomon as to his wishes (v.9).
As was said, Solomon was a wise man and he did not straightway have Shimei executed for had not David promised him his life, but knowing the character of the man, the king devised a way to carry out David’s dying request.
Shimei was given an ultimatum, the violation of which would result in his death. Build a house in Jerusalem and stay within its bounds. To go over the brook Kidron was to sign his own death warrant. This was agreeable and for a time was followed.
The day came, however, that the word of the king was put to the test. Surely it would be a reasonable exception that he should go and fetch back the two servants who had run away and thus Shemei crossed the line into forbidden territory. For this simple act of disobedience Solomon had Benaiah execute him.
It was just such a test as was given to our first father in Eden, simple but revelatory for it showed the disobedient bent of our nature. “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” Oh Lord, keep me from wandering over the Kidron. But praise God, when I have strayed, though it shows I deserve the penalty of death, there is One Who bore the punishment in my place, the Faithful and the Just (I John 1:9).
I Kings 3:1 Solomon
I wonder if you are troubled by Solomon like I am. Forcing myself to write about him the effort is being made but the words are coming hard. There is no doubt that he was a remarkable person and it certainly would have been a great privilege to have known him. There is no doubt that he was Jehovah’s choice among David’s sons to succeed his illustrious father. He favored him by granting him not only his request for wisdom but also granting him riches and honor so that there was none like him either before or after.
To his credit verse three records the important testimony that Solomon loved the LORD and if we can put any stock in his sincerity, his writings in Proverbs would seem to bear out that fact at least in his earlier days.
Of course we have many problems with respecting the man. He was inconsistent in not practicing what he preached; he was disobedient to the clear teaching of the law which warned Israel’s kings not to multiply horses, wives and gold (Deut.17:16&17); he must have been exceedingly carnal to have all the wives and concubines that he had and according to his confessions in Ecclesiastes, he was very worldly (2:10).
I guess we really should feel pity and compassion for such a person who certainly had everything one might desire and yet acknowledged that he “hated life” (2:17). The fact is, of course, he really did not know what it was to have life which is something that we must try to remember when we read about the short comings of men like Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, David and Solomon. They lived in an era when God was making a statement that righteousness could not be known by the law.
When the Lord Jesus spoke of Solomon’s greatness He said, referring to Himself, “ a greater than Solomon is here.” Solomon with all of his glory was an abysmal failure by which the greatness of our Lord Jesus is the more magnified.
I Kings 4:29 A Great Start
We must conclude that since Solomon’s writings are included in the sacred canon of Scripture that when he wrote them he was using the wisdom that God gave him and was under the control of the Holy Spirit. As he grew older and got involved with all of his wives and concubines (11:3&4) and his heart was “turned away after other gods” the Holy Spirit must have left him as He did David though it is said that David’s heart still continued faithful to Jehovah.
There were several other kings which started out well but did not end well. There was Joash who was commended for repairing the house of God but when his mentor Jehoida died, he fell away (I Chron.24:2). Of Uzziah it was said that “he was marvelously helped till he was strong” but he ended up with leprosy coming upon him, being smitten by the LORD (I Chron.26:20).
We know that Jehoshaphat displeased God by getting involved with Ahab and Hezekiah likewise by imprudently entertaining the Babylonian ambassadors and these were both basically good kings of Judah, but it was said of them that wrath came upon them from the LORD at the end of their lives (II Chron.19:2; 32:25). Even Josiah about whom it was said that there was no king like him that “turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might” (II Kings 23:25) managed to end his days in self-assertion and destruction (II Chron.35:22).
If there is a lesson to be learned in all of this, it must be that ending the race well has little to do with how one begins it. These kings all had much going for them but in spite of it their flesh gained control.
We can be thankful that through Christ we can end our race victoriously though we should be warned that old age brings with it many pitfalls of which we must be wary. Family must never come before God, pride and wealth must not be allowed to interfere with our devotion to Him. We must keep the body under control lest in the end we too become castaways (I Cor.9:27).
I Kings 5:6 Cedar Trees Out of Lebanon
Chapter two of II Chronicles is a parallel passage to this one we have before us and in the next chapter we see that Solomon began to build the “house of the LORD at Jerusalem in Mount Moriah where the LORD appeared unto David his father” etc. From that point to the end of chapter nine we have details concerning the building and dedication of Solomon’s temple. All of this follows a large portion of I Chronicles namely chapters 22-29 describing the last days of king David in which he made preparation for the building of the temple which was really his idea but which he was forbidden to do because he had “shed much blood upon the earth” in God’s sight (22:8). All of this in addition to what we have here in I Kings 2-11, a total to 26 chapters !
There are many books of the Bible that do not have this many chapters and if the reader really wishes to be informed about this period of history he should read all of them.
In preparation for the building of the temple, the center column reference in my Bible (copyright 1972) states that David set apart approximately 3 billion dollars worth of gold and 2 million of silver (I Chr.22:14). (36 years ago!) Besides he also laid up “all manner of precious stones and marble stones in abundance” (29:2).
So we see that what Solomon was amassing was only being added to what David had already provided. Even the pattern had been given Solomon by his father who had been given it by the Spirit (28:12). In 22: 4 we read that even when it came to cedar trees, David had been dealing with Hiram (Huram) and that the Zidonians and they of Tyre had bought him a lot of them already.
These cedars of Lebanon were magnificent trees. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) describes them as reaching 150 feet in height and a circumference of 40 feet and their branches growing laterally in successive tiers often exceeding their height. Such were often used in Scripture to picture God’s people. Psalm 104:16 speaks of them being planted by the LORD and Psalm 92: 13 of them flourishing in His courts. He says something else about them that you ladies might not like.
I Kings 6:7 Stone Made Ready
There are two references to Solomon’s temple in the KJV that I really like a lot. In II Chronicles 2:9 he is quoted as saying to Hiram(Huram) “prepare me timber in abundance for the house which I am about to build shall be wonderful great.” (The center column reference says “great and wonderful” but the original sounds more like a Mainer speaking don’t you think?) David used the other word when he spoke about the temple and if I didn’t know better I would be sure that he got it right out of a dictionary of Maine speech. He said that “the house that is to be builded for the LORD must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and glory throughout all countries.”
It must be that somewhere back in our history, good old Maine people, who always “dress their feet” after getting out of bed in the morning, must have some ancestors who read their Bible quite a lot.
Of particular interest in this chapter is the verse that tells us that the stones were all cut to fit in place before being brought to the building site and that everything was placed without the sound of any tools. Quietly the temple grew as the workmen, perhaps in hushed tones, constructed it according to the plan of David which was really the plan of the Holy Spirit (I Chr.28:12).
In just such a way our God by His Spirit is bringing in the lively (living) stones (I Peter 2:5) and placing us one by one into His present earthly temple which is continuously growing, yea, very quietly growing into a temple where through a holy priesthood, spiritual worship is offered to Him. Every body laid upon the altar as indicated in Romans 12:1 is presented (a Levitical term) as a sacrifice which is our “reasonable service” (literally our spiritual worship).
It is said that when the workmen looked for a capstone that would perfectly fit they turned to a stone that had been rejected earlier in the building process and it slid perfectly into place. What a wonderful day it will be when the Stone that the (Jews) builders rejected becomes the Head of the corner (I Peter 2:6 & 7).
I Kings 7:23 The Molten Sea
There are several subjects in this chapter that perhaps should be discussed. We will begin with Solomon’s “house of the forest of Lebanon.” I have heard him criticized for spending thirteen years to build it in comparison with seven for the temple. There are certainly many reasons for heaping blame on this man, but here I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt. There may be two reasons for this. One, he was in a hurry to get the temple built to get it into service as soon as possible for political and spiritual reasons. Secondly, much had been prepared in advance by David for the temple whereas he could take his time building his own house so it was lower in priority.
We are apt to be confused in having two Hirams from Tyre but that is apparently the case. This one in verse 13 is a skilled artificer who was responsible for fashioning the pillars and the laver which are the subjects of the remainder of this writing.
The two pillars erected in the temple had names. The first one mentioned in verse 21 was called Jachin meaning “He shall establish.” This could refer back to II Samuel 7:12 which speaks of Jehovah establishing Solomon as king and, spiritualized, speaks of the fact that He has also established us in Christ and placed us in His temple where He keeps us by His strength which is the meaning of the name of the other pillar, Boaz, “In Him is strength.”
The molten sea was about 15 feet across in diameter, three inches thick with a capacity for nearly 18,000 gallons, and rested on the backs of 12 oxen (v.25). It must have been primarily symbolic. There were 10 smaller lavers which were evidently used for washing. (The number of judgement - commandments),
As we know, priests always had to cleanse their hands and feet before entering into the presence of God after offering upon the brazen altar. This latter represents Romans 12:1 and the laver reminds us of the need to be clean as we serve the Lord. Remember what the Lord Jesus said to Peter at the last supper (John 13:10).
I Kings 8:38 “The Plague of His Own Heart”
Well, we have to say that here we have King Solomon at his very best. Would that he had continued to walk with the LORD exhibiting the same humility, the same faith, the same obedience and the same dedication throughout his life that he demonstrated here when he dedicated the glorious temple that he built.
O dear reader, let us ask the question of our own hearts. How does my devotion today compare with that in my early days with the Lord?
There are seven parts to Solomon’s prayer and if one were to go to the counter part of this chapter in II Chronicles 6 he would find these same seven almost word for word given there.
There is one verse that is enough different that it warrants our attention for it is indeed a special verse. It occurs in the fourth section and in our chapter here in I Kings it is verse 38. It speaks of every man knowing the plague of his own heart. In the Chronicles passage, (v.29) the words are a bit different and speak of his own sore and his own grief. The word sore is the same Hebrew word as plague only it is much more often translated by the latter. What is added to the picture is the grief, meaning sorrow or pain. If only men would recognize that the pestilence of life often reflects the plague of the human heart and would grieve over it as such, what a different world we would be living in. One of the great secrets of godliness is the recognition of the depravity of the human heart. It is about this very thing that David prayed in Psalm 51:17, also 139:23&24, and one could wish that Solomon had closed out his life praying this way.
It is interesting that in the parallel passage referred to above it is recorded that when Solomon finished his prayer, kneeling with his hands outstretched toward heaven, the fire from God fell and consumed the offering, a very dramatic conclusion to this dedicatory prayer (II Chr.7:1). It is strange indeed that it is omitted in our present text.
This rather lengthy chapter closes with reference to the eighth day (v.66) – usually symbolic of a new beginning (resurrection).
I Kings 9:8 Why?
The LORD had said to king David that his kingdom and his house would be established forever; “thy throne shall be established forever” (II Sam.7:16). This was an unconditional promise as was His promise to Abraham. As long as the kingdom lasted, a descendent of David reigned in Jerusalem and the words of Gabriel the archangel to Mary (Lk.1:32 & 33) were a confirmation that this promise had not been revoked, “He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”
Now to Solomon the LORD appears and speaks to him renewing in one sense the promise made to his father, but following it with some important conditions. We notice the little word “if”in verses four and six. God told him what would happen if he turned away from following Him and worshiped other gods. True to Jehovah’s promise to David, He would not take the kingdom away from Solomon even under those circumstances, but as a punishment his son after him would lose all but the tribes of Benjamin and Judah and in a few years the divided kingdom would be lost to Assyria and Babylon and his glorious temple would be utterly destroyed (v.8).
To the question, “Why hath the LORD done this unto this land and to this house?” The answer comes back loud and clear, “Because they forsook the LORD their God!”
It is sad to contemplate how a nation so blessed of God should fall so far away from Him as we see them today in the blindness of unbelief and we sympathize with the Apostle Paul as he laments in Romans 9–11 this condition.
But those of us who take literally the promises of the Old Testament believe that the Son of David will yet sit on the throne of David and we long for that day to become a reality. “Even so come Lord Jesus.”
I Kings 10:8 “Happy Are Thy Men”
Amazing as was the wealth of Solomon, we are not greatly impressed as was the queen of Sheba and there are several reasons for our lack of wonder and enthusiasm. Let us think about them.
Starting with the tremendous amounts of gold. There were those impressive shields of gold, three hundred of them, and each of them worth between five and ten thousand dollars. Before fifty years were out, they landed in Egypt, courtesy of Shishak, and Solomon’s son Rehoboam had them replaced with shields of brass (14:25 - 27) typifying the fast fading glory of this worldly kingdom. If only Solomon would have read and believed what his father said (Ps.19:9&10), that the judgements of the LORD are much more to be desired.
Chariots and horses were symbolic of a king’s power but not an Israelite king, rather they spoke of disobedience and here again David had it right when he stated “Some trust in chariots and some in horses but we will remember the name of the LORD our God” (Ps.20:7, also see Deut.17:16).
If only we didn’t have to follow this chapter with the eleventh we might perhaps share some of the queen’s wonder.
Then too, we have read of Another King Whose glory far surpasses the glory of this shooting star as the lilies of the field surpass him in their array. Yes, praise God, a greater than Solomon has come and He has bestowed on us, the paupers of his realm, the riches of His grace.
As we face the throne of His omnipotence our hearts burst forth into singing– “Oh, it is marvelous, it is wonderful and marvelous what Jesus has done for this soul of mine, THE HALF HAS NEVER BEEN TOLD!”
I Kings 11:6 “Not fully after the LORD”
I, for one, am glad to get Solomon over with and into the ground. What happened to his soul is anybody’s guess. Probably because of God’s grace and because of his basic belief in Jehovah, we will see him in heaven. I sincerely hope so but if I were a betting man I wouldn’t put any money on it. After what God did for him and then to have him end up as he did going after Ashtoreth of the Zidonians, Milcom of the Ammorites as well as building high places for Chemosh and Molech, in my book, would be enough to condemn him to Hell for all eternity. What a hypocrite!
The lesson here for us, however, is a very important one. But for the exceeding grace of God in Christ Jesus, there go I and you too. You see, we are not only saved by grace, we are also kept by grace because we are in Christ. Without the Holy Spirit Solomon reverted to being just like any other unregenerate man which is what all men were in the Old Testament. Only born again people are regenerated. That is the difference between the old and new covenants.
Under the old covenant people were saved by keeping the law which they gave evidence of through the sacrificial system. Solomon offered thousands of animals and every one supposedly pictured the death of Christ, yet to come, and he must have believed it. So far as we know, he continued that practice up til the time of his death. His error was, being the fallible human being that he was, he mixed in all these false gods with the worship of Jehovah and then did not wholly follow the LORD like Joshua did. The key is in verse six where it says, “he went not fully after the LORD as did David his father.”
What then do we do about all his writings? Certainly, he must have done Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon under the direction of the Holy Spirit so they come down to us as part of the inspired Word of God. It surely is, however, a sad case of “do as I say and not as I do.”
I Kings 12:24 “This thing is from me”
One of the things Jehovah did as a judgement for Solomon’s sins was to stir up a hornet’s nest of satanic adversaries (Strong 7853-SAW-TAWN-lit. Satan) that buzzed around his gold crowned head in a most threatening manner (11:14, 23& 26).
One of these was an industrious young men with a mighty stinger, Jeroboam by name. To him God made known that He was giving ten parts of the kingdom. For this, Solomon did one of the things God hates, he sought to shed innocent blood (Prov.6:17). In this, it would seem, he was snared with the words of his own mouth! But Jeroboam got away to come again another day!
Here in chapter twelve the circumstances of the revolt of the ten tribes are unveiled as Jeroboam becomes their leader and the so-called northern kingdom of Israel is born leaving Solomon’s son Rehoboam with only the tribe of Judah and tag along Benjamin which is hardly worth mentioning and usually isn’t.
Immediately Rehoboam set out to bring the revolting tribes under subjection with an army of 180,000 chosen men, but a little known prophet, Shemaiah, comes on the scene with God’s word telling Judah not to fight for “this thing is from me”(v.24) and to their credit they obeyed.
So, though the seeds of revolt had been growing, Absalom, being a great factor, in this chapter we have the actual division of the nation into two kingdoms. The northern kingdom retains the name of Israel and is ruled by Jeroboam while Rehoboam takes what is left under the name of Judah with its capitol at Jerusalem.
Sadly, Jeroboam introduces false worship characterizing the entire history of the breakaway kingdom which ends in captivity by Assyria and is lost from view until the tribulation (v.32).
I Kings 13:18 “But he lied”
Do you suppose that King Amon and his wife Jedidah who lived three hundred and fifty years after the events which take place in chapter thirteen thought when their son was born that they had better name him Josiah in order to please Jehovah and so the prophecy of the nameless prophet might be fulfilled? Of course not! For one thing he was as bad as his father Manassah (II K.21:20) and he obviously was not interested in such things. Besides, little did he suspect that his son who succeeded him would become one of the greatest reformers of the southern kingdom.
All this to say that we have here before us one of the most spectacular of all biblical prophecies. Josiah is named and specific activities described several hundred years in advance. We will wait until we reach II Kings 23 to comment on the fulfillment (but there is nothing to say that you cannot sneak a peek now is there? If so, you might particularly check out verse 17).
The real emphasis in this chapter is the word of the LORD. Please do read this great story and underline the nine times these words occur. The local clergy (v.11), the old liberal from Samaria (II Kings 23:18), was a good example of a neo-evangelical when he didn’t hesitate to embellish the truth since the end justified the means and what harm could there possibly be in having a lunch and some fellowship before going back home.
Though the prophet from Judah was disciplined by Jehovah for his disobedience, his loss of life is no more than a physical judgement as evidenced by the care that was taken of his carcass (not eaten by the lion) and his bones (II Kings 23:18).
We can hope that the lesson was not lost on the old compromiser and perhaps even his boys learned a thing or two about obedience. O-B-E-D-I-E-N-C-E still is the very best way to show that you believe.
I Kings 14:2 Ahijah the Prophet
It was only after reading this chapter over again many times that I became interested in this
special man of God, Ahijah. We all know a lot about Elijah and Elisha but who is this?
First we must recognize that there are others with this same name and one of them is seen in the very next chapter and is the father of Baasha of the house of Issachar. It may be noted here (15:27-29) that said Baasha reigned in the third year of Asa king of Judah and that it was he who slew Jeroboam’s son Nadab and fulfilled the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite. In other words here in three verses there are two men with the same name (Ahijah) and no connection between them.
It is Ahijah the Shilonite that we are focusing on in this chapter. He first appears in chapter eleven as the prophet through whom Jehovah revealed the division of the kingdom and the granting of 10 tribes to Jeroboam. This was done dramatically as Ahijah tore a new garment into 12 pieces giving 10 to him along with a warning that he should walk in the ways of Jehovah (11:38).
Obviously Jeroboam disobeyed and in the previous chapter we read about the nameless prophet from Judah who cried against his false altar in Bethel. Fire from heaven and a temporary paralysis of his hand and arm did not dissuade him from his evil way. Now his son is sick and he sends his wife disguised as another to determine what would become of the child (14:3).
It is fascinating to read here about how Jehovah told the blind Ahijah all about it in advance and gave him a message of judgement to be delivered by his wife telling her that the child would die as soon as she reached home (vss.12 & 17). The details of God’s judgement which are very graphic, are given here in verses 7-16 and are partially fulfilled in the next chapter (15:29). Ultimately the northern kingdom of Israel would be carried away into captivity as a direct result of the sins of Jeroboam as indicated in II Kings 17:18-23.
II Chronicles 13:20 declares that Jeroboam’s death was directly attributed to Jehovah
I Kings 15:8 Abijam and Asa
Having read this chapter are you a bit confused? This is another reason to obey the injunction in II Timothy 2:15 where we are admonished to study and rightly divide the Word. Let me tell you empathically, WE WILL BE ASHAMED when we stand before the Lord if we have dared to say or even think that it is too hard to understand. We have in our hands the inerrant WORD of the living God and if it was written in print so fine that one might have to purchase an expensive magnifying glass to see it and finding it was written in some ancient mystical language, must spend a lifetime of study to learn it, we would be absolute fools to not do so unless it were impossible. Unfortunately, there are people in our day and in our land, usually men, who cannot read. If they have anything inside their head for brains beside squash they should forsake all other activity in order to learn if for no other reason than to apply themselves to the study of the Bible! I am wound up on this subject and wish I could take time to say more, but what are my words compared to His?
Dare we conclude that the Bible is so full of mistakes that we can dismiss our responsibility to study it when a scholar like Robert Dick Wilson after spending 45 years in little else but and coming to the end of his life, wished he had another lifetime to devote to such a book as the Old Testament about which he could say that there is not one page we cannot trust?
When I get to a chapter like this one I usually make a little chart showing relationships, do you? When you read do you think, how could Maachah (v.10) be Abijam’s mother and Asa, Abijam’s son’s mother? Do you have any desire to check II Chronicles 13-16 to read a rich commentary on Abijam (Abijah) and Asa? If you have not, please forgive me, you are not worthy of the term, “meateater”, you are still a milk-sucker. Do you wonder why you cannot find the Acts of Nadab (v.31) which were written in the Chronicles of the kings of Israel, not realizing that there is at this point a divided kingdom and all we have in our Bible are the Chronicles of Judah, the southern kingdom?
I conclude with one last test of integrity. Have you ever put together a reading of I Kings 13:31 and II Kings 23:16-19? Do you realize that there are over 300 years between these accounts and yet Josiah was named (13:2) so long before his birth? What a book!
I Kings 16:30 Ahab, Worst of the Lot
Before you send the sword of the LORD to its scabbard to rest and be still (Ez.47:6) and think bad thoughts of him who wields it, remember there is a curse upon those who do “the work of the LORD deceitfully” keeping back the sword from blood. And pity the preacher of righteousness that instead of a congregation has only a sheet of paper before him.
For New Testament authorization to occasionally brandish the sword, I quote II Timothy 4:1 & 2 in part, “I charge thee...preach the word be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke” etc. I ask you what is being “out of season” any more than being a retired pastor?
Again, you may be tempted to omit the reading of this chapter, and again I remind you of the words of Paul coming just previous to those above, “All scripture...” and certainly this was primarily a reference to the Old Testament.
What we have here is a sad disclosure of the pathetic conditions created by the apostasy of Jeroboam but with roots in Solomon’s love affairs (11:1). The trail leads here from Baasha who slew Jeroboam’s son Nadab, usurping the throne of the Northern Kingdom of Israel for 24 years; to Elah(son of Baasha); to Zimri who killed Elah who was drunk at the time; to Omri who succeeded Zimri, who but reigned seven days; and only after the death of Tibni, a factious leader of half the kingdom (v.21). Omri, reigning 22 years, was an evil king, worse than all before him (v.25) and was known as the founder of the city of Samaria but primarily as the father of the famous Ahab whose marriage to Jezebel brought Baal worship into the kingdom evoking the prophetic ministry of Elijah.
These kings following Jeroboam are typical of all leadership in the Northern Kingdom of Israel in contrast to the Southern Kingdom of Judah which had a number of godly kings.
From here to the end of the book of I Kings we have the wonderful story of Elijah. I can hardly wait, how about you?
I Kings 17:1 Elijah the Tishbite
Wow! What a man of God! What a prophet he was! Elijah, the Tishbite. I love the way God introduces His prophets. With the kings, we usually know who their fathers were, and even their mothers but with the prophets they seem to just appear almost in a puff of smoke,often even nameless, they come, with the very word of Jehovah on their lips. I suppose that the inhabitants of Gilead knew something about him – oh yes, that odd Tishbite, stays to himself a lot, preaches on the street corners – probably dressed very like John, of whom he was the forerunner, a voice in the wilderness.
Coming out of that wilderness long enough to confront Ahab, the epitome of evil governance, he storms against him with the violence of God’s anger, anger over Baal worship, anger over Jezebel, anger directed at Israel’s worst king yet (16:33). Like a whirlwind he struck, perhaps at the center of Ahab’s court or perhaps during a chance meeting on the street, but the words rose in his throat... “As the LORD God of Israel liveth...no dew nor rain...years...but according to my word” (v.1).
And now swept out of sight, back into the wilderness, he hid from Ahab’s wrath and if he wondered at the audacity with which he had addressed the sovereign of the land and if he feared his wrath, at least he was comforted to know that he was being cared for supernaturally as each day, morning and evening the low swish-swish of raven’s wings signaled him that ere they eat what they had scavenged they must first feed Elijah, for God had commanded it and how could they resist.
And, when the brook failed the same command came to a widow woman. She was somewhere in Zidon, Jezebel’s territory, how would he know her? Ah, a little test, “me first,” like the ravens, would she do it? She even speaks of Jehovah (v.12) what a comfort to find her. And for her to find him! Miracle after miracle until she exclaimed “Now..I know that thou art a man of God and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.” Hallelujah!
I Kings 18:41 A Sound of Abundance of Rain
It is an evidence of the amazing grace of our God that He sent the prophet Elijah to confront Ahab, the king of Israel. Never, after this story, could it be said with seriousness, “if only God would show Himself, I would believe.” Of all men Ahab saw the wonders of God’s power revealed in many ways but his heart appeared to grow harder at each instance until finally, at the close of this book of I Kings his resistence is overcome and Elijah’s God is triumphant. In the meantime, let us revel at the wonders of God’s grace.
As the years of famine rolled relentlessly over the land the bitterness in Ahab’s heart against the one he thought responsible for his troubles grew proportionately. If only he could find him, he thought, his troubles would be over, so he spared no effort (v.10). The source of all our problems is our own wicked heart yet the tendency is to lay the blame elsewhere (v.17).
God called for an end to the drought (v.1) which our New Testament affirms lasted a full three and a half years (James 5:17), but the idea of a contest seems to have originated with Elijah, and his prayers are credited with the relief God sent, which is both interesting and edifying to say the least.
In my first year at Providence Bible Institute our class participated in performing Mendelson’s oratorio Elijah and I cannot read this stirring account without having that wonderful music ringing in my ears. “Take all the prophets of Baal, let not one of them escape us, take them and slay them,” this after the taunting words of Elijah– “call him louder!”
No amount of crying to Baal and cutting themselves as they gradually weakened their resistence by blood-letting could avail but when the clear voice of Elijah spoke to Jehovah “hear me O LORD that this people may know that thou art the LORD God,” the fire fell and soon there was “a sound of abundance of rain.” Praise God!
I Kings 19:18 Seven Thousand
This verse makes me think of Paul’s attitude towards those brethren he spoke about in Philippians 1:14-18 who "preach Christ of contention" being wrongly motivated but, none the less, "brethren." I often think of this passage when tempted to be critical of those who apparently are, in my opinion, compromising their stand for the gospel. Their behavior seems deplorable and often demands that we must separate from them on Scriptural grounds (II Thess.3:14&15) but we must not forget that they are not the "enemy."
Here we are amazed to read that in this period of spiritual declension in Israel there are 7,000 who have not gone so far as bowing to Baal, a fact reiterated also by the apostle (Rom.11:2-4) to point out the truth that God always preserves a "remnant according to the election of grace." Paul saw this company in Jehovah’s answer to Elijah as significant enough to use it to illustrate his point and the Holy Spirit approved.
We would have a problem with Obadiah and might not be inclined to want to invite him to our "inner circle" who was governor of Ahab’s house (18:3) but the truth of the matter was that this man "feared the Lord greatly" and by virtue of his position was able to save one hundred prophets from Jezebel’s slaughter. Furthermore it was probably some of these, who halted between two opinions (18:21), who participated with Elijah in the execution, at the brook Kishon, of the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. All we can do is wonder in astonishment at such a fantastic turn of events.
Do you know someone, especially a pastor or missionary, whom you suspect is guilty of compromise? On the one hand it may be commendable to separate and you might be wrong not to do so, but on the other side of the coin (changing the metaphor), be alert to recognize that such may be in the category of those who, halting between two opinions, have not yet bowed to Baal. Pray for them
I Kings 20:13 "I am the LORD"
May we all be duly impressed by the authority of "the word of the LORD." Little did Hiel the Bethelite surmise when he elected to rebuild Jericho, that the bones of two of his sons would be encased in the foundation of the project, but he should have known better since Jehovah had warned of it through Joshua (6:26 & I Kings 16:34). This fact is cited when we are introduced to Ahab, as perhaps indicating that the prophets would be constantly reminding him of that word to which he would eventually bow (21:27). (Adam Clark’s interpretation not withstanding).
In Longfellow’s poem about the village blacksmith, it was the anvil that wore the hammers out. Few hammered any harder than Ahab and it may be that his story is preserved to demonstrate that in the end, the word of the LORD remained intact.
There is, in this chapter, a strange but potent parable that accentuates this truth. The main character is a prophet who remains nameless, and his neighbor, also nameless, who refused when bidden, to strike a damaging blow to his person. Since the request was backed by the word of the LORD the refusal fell into the category of disobedience to God and incurred severe judgement. The prophet, wishing to use his injury as an object lesson finally found someone who would comply with his strange request. All of this to say to us, no matter what God tells us in His word, we had better obey remembering Hiel, this neighbor, and many others (like Uzzah) who either didn’t know better or didn’t pay attention.
If the word of the LORD was taught on television many Christians who watch it instead of going to evening service and prayer meeting would know better than to be disobedient but as it is, they may think they have ignorance as an excuse. Beware, there really is a lion in the streets!
Ahab certainly had no excuse for his disobedience, with a bunch of no-name brand prophets on his case in addition to Elijah, as if he wasn’t enough! And all to the end that he might "know that I am the LORD!" (13 & 28).
I Kings 21:27 Ahab Softens
Twice in this chapter it is said of Ahab that he sold himself to do evil in the sight of Jehovah and this story contained here seems to bring to a climax the wicked career of this man, starting in the end of chapter sixteen and ending in chapter twenty-two. In verse nineteen he is charged with killing Naboth as if in complicity with his wife, Jezebel. He married her, he supported her pagan cause and now he must accept the responsibility of her deceitful and murderous deed.
Though the reign of each of the seven kings who preceded him in the northern kingdom of Israel had seemed worse than the one before it with Omri, his father, being worse than all (16:25) it is said of Ahab (16:33) that he “did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings ...before him.”
God sends his nemesis, the prophet Elijah to confront him with the announcement of the wrath that he had incurred. His posterity would be eliminated with every male killed, Jezebel would be slain and her dead body would be eaten by dogs (II Kings 9:36), and in the very place where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth would they wash his armor with their tongues (22:38).
We can hardly believe our eyes when we reach verse twenty-seven of today’s chapter and see the profound affect Elijah’s words had upon Ahab, it was the same as Jonah’s warnings had upon Nineveh and our gracious God personally alerted Elijah to the fact that such humbling had ameliorated His judgement. Judgment came later to Nineveh as physical destruction was soon to come upon Ahab, but as for his soul we are left to speculate.
(Note, see II Chronicles 33:1-7; 12, 13 for another account of repentence.)
I Kings 22:44 Peace at What Price?
During our prayer time this morning I was wondering if, as a result of Ahab’s humbling of himself, we would meet him in the glory. I have to say that I really don’t know. What do you think and on what do you base your conclusion? One wonders if Elijah might have communicated with Jehoshaphat about Ahab’s change of heart and that may have prompted him to “join affinity” with him (II Chronicles 18:1). The fact that he hated Micaiah is significant but then there are people who have hated me that I expect to see in heaven. The deciding issue may be what is said about Ahab by Jehu the prophet in II Chronicles 19:2 when he chided Jehoshaphat for going into battle with him against the Syrians, “shouldest thou help the ungodly and love them that hate the LORD?” Can one “hate the LORD” and yet be saved? It would certainly seem not.
Anyway this chapter contains a great story and I hope you have taken the time to read it for it teaches a very important lesson. You can run but you cannot hide. Be sure your sin will find you out.
Flying in the face of providence, following the exchange between Micaiah and Zedekiah, Jehoshaphat prepares to go into battle with Ahab at Ramoth-gilead against the Syrians. Ahab, who disguised himself, urges his counterpart to wear his kingly robes. The strategy of the enemy was to kill the head of the army so the captains were instructed to fight only with Ahab.
In spite of these conditions a randomly shot missile found its way through a crack in Ahab’s armor and mortally wounded him. Certainly he died knowing that it was God’s arrow, and true to the prophet’s word, the dogs washed his armor at the pool of Samaria.
Jehoshaphat, miraculously spared, got a real tongue lashing from Jehovah, recorded in II Chr.19:2. Knowing this verse, how could any servant of the Lord appear on the same platform with a false prophet no matter how worthy the cause?