1&2 Kings

Introduction

1. Name
The English name of the book “Kings” comes from its title in the Hebrew Bible. The Septuagint identified the book as 3rd and 4th Kingdoms following on from 1st and 2nd Kingdoms (the Septuagint title for 1-2 Samuel). The rather unnatural break between the books in the account of Ahaziah would suggest that the two books were originally one. The division was probably for the convenience of fitting each book on one scroll.
 
2. Theme
Obedience blessed, disobedience punished, penitents forgiven.[footnote]G Crossley, The Old Testament Explained and Applied (England: Evangelical Press, 2002), 287.[/footnote]
 
3. Purpose
To demonstrate the justice of the exile of Israel and Judah. God was fully justified in his wrath because of the repeated and severe apostasy of the nation.[footnote]Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 491.[/footnote]
 
4. Key verses

Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon…and unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there (1 Kings 11:31, 36).

 
5. Key truths

  • God’s promises to David’s family continued despite his sons’ failures.
  • God called for his exiled people to repent of their sins.
  • Restoration from exile was offered to Israel upon condition of repentance.[footnote]Ibid., 491.[/footnote]

 

I. Author

See Lecture 7: Overview of the Historical Books for general remarks on authorship.
 

1. Critical View

The attempt to find Pentateuchal sources (J, E, etc) resulted in such divergent views that this approach has now been finally abandoned.
The attempt to find one Deuteronomic author is understandable but unsustainable.

That the attitude of Deuteronomy frequently emerges in the moral judgments of 1 and 2 Kings may be freely admitted, but this is admirably accounted for by the Mosaic authorship of that book. (The same is true of the Deuteronomic influences which have been noted in the books of Samuel and Judges.) Obviously the authors of these earlier works were familiar with Deuteronomy as well as the rest of the Torah, and considered it to be authoritative as being authored by Moses himself.[footnote]G L Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1998), Electronic Edition.[/footnote]

 

2. Jewish View

Jewish tradition identified Jeremiah as the author of Kings. The Talmud reports: “Jeremiah wrote his own book, the Book of Kings, and Lamentations.” Jeremiah was active at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the book bearing his name quotes extensively from the final chapters of Kings or from some other source both books used in common. Nevertheless, Jeremiah went into Egypt after the destruction of Jerusalem (Jer.43:1-8), so probably was not the final author of Kings which concludes with a report that seems to have been written in Babylon.
 

3. Evangelical View

Although we cannot say with certainty who wrote the book, the prophetic presuppositions and application of Deuteronomy do permeate the book. The fact that there is no mention of such an influential prophet as Jeremiah might be explained by the modest Jeremiah being the book’s author. However, this is conjecture.

In all probability, the author was a contemporary of Jeremiah, one who was a prophet and deeply concerned because his people did not obey the voice of Jehovah.[footnote]E J Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament (London: Tyndale Press, 1953), 184.[/footnote]

 

4. Sources

The author refers to three primary sources.

  1. The “book of the acts of Solomon” (I Kgs.11:41): annals, biographical data, and excerpts from the temple archives.
  2. The “book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel” (I Kgs.14:19; 15:7): Recorded each king’s political activities in official state archives.
  3. “The book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah” (I Kgs.14:29; 15:7): an official state record preserved in the royal archives

 

II. Date

Earliest date: The earliest likely date for final composition is the release of Jehoiachin (2Ki.25:27-30) (561/2 BC).
Latest date: Since the writer of Kings did not mention Cyrus, the latest likely date is just before the Cyrus Edict (538 BC) when the Israelites received permission to return to the land.
The most probable date is the midpoint of the Babylonian exile (560-550 BC). The grammar and style of the Hebrew and the contents of Kings would suggest that the books were completed during the Babylonian exile.
 

III. Historical Analysis

1. Chronology

971 BC______Solomon’s reign
931 BC______Kingdom divided
853 BC______Elisha begins ministry
722 BC______Israel to Assyria
586/7 BC____Judah to Babylon
561 BC______King Jehoiachin released
This is the most “historical” of all the Old Testament Books, meaning that it is the book most taken up with dates and chronology. The book covers the period between the closing days of rule of David (971 BC) until the 37th year of Jehoiachin’s exile (561 BC). Stating the matter another way, Kings begins (roughly) with the building of the temple and concludes with the burning of that same edifice.
 

2. Historical Method

The author presents the kings of Israel and Judah in successive chronological order. Beginning with the king of Israel, he presents the kings of the opposite kingdom until their chronology advances beyond that of the synchronic king of the other kingdom. The narrative cycles between reigns in the North and South until the northern kingdom is carried into exile by the Assyrians, when the narrative focuses on the southern kingdom until its own destruction.

a. Introductory notice

• Accession notice: synchronized with the regnal year of his contemporary in the other kingdom.
• Age: for the kings of Judah, there is a statement of their age at the time of accession.
• Length of the reign: includes the years of any possible co-regency (royal capital in Israel noted)
• Ancestry: for the kings of Judah the name of the king’s mother is given (Israel notes the Father)
• Theological or moral evaluation: often followed by narrative elaboration to demonstrate its validity

Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned Abijam over Judah. Three years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom. And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father (1 Kings 15:1-3).

b. Concluding notices

• Source citation: other interesting events/information (Chronicles elaborates on this)
• Death notice: the king’s death is reported (reference to burial for kings of Judah)
• Succession notice: the name of the royal son who succeeded his father

Now the rest of the acts of Abijam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam. And Abijam slept with his fathers; and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead (1Kings 15:7-8).

Between these introductory and concluding notices the writer-compiler of Kings has incorporated a wide variety of materials. The kings are remembered for at least one important incident that took place during their reigns, most often in connection with some military action.
 

4. Historical Continuity

Historical continuity can be seen in three areas:

a. Exodus Link

Near the beginning of the book is a verse which ties the Temple building to the Exodus, the formative event in Israel’s History, making the point that even these sinful kingdoms were nevertheless linked with the covenant people of the Exodus.

And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD (1Ki.6:1)

b. Deuteronomic History Link

The Pentateuch recounts the establishment of Israel as a nation under the terms of the Mosaic covenant. Samuel recounts the establishment of the monarchy in Israel under the terms of the Davidic covenant. Kings picks up the theme of Samuel, and demonstrates in real-life the correct correlation between the Mosaic and Davidic covenants. It shows that the Davidic promise can be relied on only so long as the Mosaic covenant demands are met. The author of Chronicles further develops this theme. From the history of the kingship in Israel, he proves that faithful adherence to the covenant which the Lord had made with Israel brings happiness and blessing, and the forsaking of it brings ruin and a curse.
 

c. Judah/Israel Link

The author’s merging of the two nations’ historical records itself had the intention of showing the importance of unity to two nations which were hostile to each other.

The careful synchronisms for each king’s reign with the dates of the sister nation’s king indicates the author’s desire to represent the histories of Israel and Judah as the history of one people, not two. The two kingdoms were inextricably related to each other, not only by chronology and the historical events of this period but also by their previous history as one people under God, both of whom still were accountable to Him.[footnote]D M Howard, An Introduction to the Old Testament Historical Books (Chicago: Moody Press, 1993), Electronic Edition.[/footnote]

Although he severely critiqued the northern kingdom and its monarchs for their pervasive idolatry, the writer still considered these tribes among the covenant people and demonstrated a sustained interest in their history. Even after the northern tribes were exiled by the Assyrians, the author did not lose interest in their fate, commending Josiah for reforming Samaria.[footnote]Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 492.[/footnote]

 

5. Historical Problems

The factual nature of the records is emphasized by the meticulous care with the dates, the references to existing court records, and the synchronizing of reigns with the Egyptian, Assyrian and Babylonian kings.

The author’s organization and periodisation of Israel’s experience with the monarchy reveal his concern to provide an orderly and meaningful account of his nation’s past…In composing a coherent and meaningful account of his nation’s past, the Biblical writer provided an invaluable service to anyone wishing to understand this momentous era in Israelite history.[footnote]Ibid., 491.[/footnote]

However, this has not prevented considerable debate surrounding the precise dating of kings and events. The problem of Old Testament chronology is complicated by the following factors:

a. Different systems of dating: the use of both the sacred-year (beginning with Nisan, the first month) and the civil-year (beginning with Tishri, the seventh month) methods of dating.

b. Problem of transferring lunar dates into solar dates.

c. Different methods of calculating the regnal years of kings: the accession year system did not count the year in which a king came to the throne as his first year. The non-accession-year system counted the remainder of the accession year as the king’s first year.

d. Possibility of co-regencies: son began his reign during the reign of his father

This has led to a number of suggested chronological schemes and each theologian has his own reasons for following his chosen scheme. I wouldn’t get too bogged down in the dating of Old Testament events. A good grasp of the sequence of events is more important than the actual specific dates.
 

6. Archaeology

Much light has been thrown upon the chronology of the Hebrew dynasties by the synchronisms (or simultaneous dates) contained in the Assyrian monuments. Of especial importance are the Assyrian eponym lists which cover the history of the empire from 893 to 666 BC

a. The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III.

Contemporary official monuments, such as the Black Stela of Shalmaneser III and the Taylor Cylinder of Sennacherib, occasionally contain dated references to Israelite kings. From such data as these it has been established that there were numerous co-regencies in both Judah and Israel, and that the years of the co-regency were reckoned in the total figure for the reign of each king involved.

b. Sennacherib’s Prism

The monument known as Sennacherib’s Prism gives an extra-biblical account about an important event in Israel’s history – a siege against Jerusalem conducted by King Sennacherib of Assyria about 690 BC (Is.36; 37). Rulers of the ancient world used monuments such as this prism on which to record their exploits. These documents of stone and clay have survived for centuries in the rubble and ruin of ancient cities. They provide valuable insight into life in Bible times, confirming and, in many cases, adding valuable information about biblical events.
 

7. Geography

8. Enemies

Although Syria (or Aram) was subject to Israel during David and Solomon’s reign, by the time of Ahab, they became an increasingly dangerous military threat, King Ahab finally being killed fighting them. Syria itself was overrun by the Assyrian Empire in 732 BC.
 

IV. Literary Analysis

1. Comparative Outlines

J.E. Smith Pratt Murray
  1. Strength/Sole Kingdom (1Kings 1-11)
  2. Struggle/Sister Kingdoms (1Ki.12 – II Ki.17)
  3. Storm/Surviving Kingdom (2Ki.18-27)
  1. Failure and Hope in Solomon’s Years (1Kgs.1:1-12:24)
  2. Failure and Hope in the Divided Years (1Kgs.12:25-2Kgs.17)
  3. Failure and Hope in Judah’s Final Years (2Kgs.18:1-25:30)
  1. Failure and Hope in the United Kingdom (1Kgs.1-11)
  2. Failure and Hope in the Divided Kingdom (1Kgs.12-2Kgs.25)

2. Original Meaning

Much of the faith of Israel in the pre-exilic period was built around two promises of God. Firstly, His choice of Jerusalem as his dwelling place, and secondly, His promises to David of an enduring dynasty. For the exiles, however, these promises now had a hollow ring. Jerusalem was in ruins and there was no king left. Had God failed? Was he not able to keep his promises? Was Marduk, the god of the Babylonians, more powerful than Yahweh of Israel?

The writer of Kings sets out to explain the Exile and the destruction of Judah in a way that would rescue the faith of the people in the face of such questions. A quick reading of the book gives the impression that Kings is overall not an upbeat history, but rather that it records a downward spiral. Why should this be so? In part at least, it is because the writer is telling Israel that the Exile was not the result of a failure on God’s part, but rather, that God had acted to confirm his holiness by judging the nation for its transgressions. The Exile did not show that Yahweh lacked power—just the opposite: it was the proof that he was ruling over history and that the armies of Babylon were simply doing his bidding. The Deuteronomic History is largely a history of the nation’s failure to keep its covenant with God. “Since the day their forefathers came out of Egypt even unto this day” (2 Kings 21:15) the people had provoked God through disobedience until he decreed disaster for them.[footnote]R Dillard and T Longman III, Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 161.[/footnote]

The writer’s motive and aim was to bring the exiles to see that their judgment was just and that they should commit themselves to repentance in hope of release. The sins of the kings and the people are recorded in great detail, not out of a perverse delight in sin and punishment, but rather as reminders of the people’s sins, as warnings to the present exilic generation. These catalogues of failings are interspersed with God’s gracious promises, which were all fulfilled, and with reminders that there was still hope for God’s people if they repented. In the end, the books of Kings look to the future – a future in which God’s people have turned to Him and in which God remained faithful to His own promises, both to His people and to the household of David.

The roots of the message of these two books lie in God’s great promises to David in 2 Samuel. The lesson for God’s people during the period of the Exile in Babylonia and afterward – which is the time period addressed by the author of these books – is threefold: (1) that Israel should learn a lesson from the mistakes of its forebears and listen to God’s mouthpieces, the prophets, in order to avoid such severe punishment again; but (2) that God nevertheless is a good and gracious God, still ready to forgive when people truly repent; and (3) that He still holds out hope for His people, regardless of how dire their circumstances.[footnote]D M Howard, An Introduction to the Old Testament Historical Books (Chicago: Moody Press, 1993), Electronic Edition.[/footnote]

 

3. Genre

Kings is mainly historical narrative written in prose form. We can also find lists, chronological notices, obituaries and building specifications.

The books contain mostly historical narrative. It may be argued that this is the earliest genuine historiography in world literature. For the first time in human history, a nation produced a continuous narrative organizing documents in an orderly presentation with a single overarching purpose.[footnote]B Arnold and B Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 222.[/footnote]

 

4. The Pace of the Story

One of the features we should look out for in reading kings is when the story slows down to focus on a particular king. This indicates the relative importance of the individual kings.

For example, Solomon’s story requires eleven chapters, spanning forty years. Similarly, the lesser-known dynasty of Omri – which includes the reigns of Omri, Ahab, Ahaziah, and Jehoram, the ministries of Elijah and Elisha, and the kings of Judah who interact with Omri’s dynasty (Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, and Ahaziah) – spans forty-four years in nineteen chapters, more space than allotted to Solomon. Kings also slows down to recount the reigns of Hezekiah and Josiah.[footnote]L Ryken and T Longman III (Editors), The Complete Literary Guide to the Bible (Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 1993), 183.[/footnote]

 

V. Thematic Analysis

In Lecture 7 we noted the theological and literary impact of Deuteronomy on Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. We, therefore, referred to these books as the Deuteronomistic History. We also considered the themes which united the books in the Deuteronomic history. Following the pattern we established in our overview of Judges, we will survey how the Deuteronomic themes surface in Kings.

1. The Covenant

a. The Mosaic Covenant

The writer emphasizes that Israel was not in itself better than any other nation. The Israelites did not first choose God; rather God graciously singled them out from all the other nations of the world. This emphasizes the graciousness of the Mosaic covenant bond by which God committed Himself to His people.

That thine eyes may be open unto the supplication of thy servant, and unto the supplication of thy people Israel, to hearken unto them in all that they call for unto thee. For thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand of Moses thy servant, when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord GOD (1Ki.8:51,53).

The writer traces the history of Israel’s kings, evaluating their reigns using not political nor economic but Mosaic covenant criteria. The nation’s prosperity was tied to spiritual prosperity.

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, and that the success of any ruler was to be measured by the degree of his adherence to the Mosaic constitution and his maintenance of a pure and God-honoring testimony before the heathen. The purpose of this record was to set forth those events which were important from the standpoint of God and His program of redemption. The author had no intention of glorifying Israel’s heroes out of nationalistic motives; hence he omitted even those passing achievements which would have assumed great importance in the eyes of a secular historian. His prime concern was to show how each successive ruler dealt with God in his covenant responsibilities.[footnote]G L Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1998), Electronic Edition.[/footnote]

 

b. The Davidic Covenant

Kings shows how the promises to David were practically fulfilled both in the divine chastisement of unfaithful kings and in God’s unbroken promise of an eternal Davidic dynasty (1 Kgs.2:45; 9:5; 11:36; 15:4; 2 Kgs.8:19). Many times, God is reported as acting graciously for the sake of his servant David (1 Kings 11:12, 13, 32, 34, 36; 15:4–5; 2 Kings 8:19; 19:34; 20:6). On other occasions, David’s having received the promises from God is mentioned (1Kings 2:33, 45; 5:5; 8:15, 19, 24, 26; 11:38; 2 Kings 21:7). The last event in the book underscores God’s ongoing commitment to the Davidic dynasty.
 

2. The Kings

The book is entitled “Kings” because from its first to last chapters, kings are its subject matter. As mentioned, above, each king is measured by his adherence to the divine covenant. In Deuteronomy 17 the future king is charged with the responsibility to maintain true national religion (Dt.17:18-19). Kings traces how they fulfilled this responsibility and the consequences of failure (Dt.17:20). The influence of Deuteronomy on Kings is also seen in the virtual citation of Deuteronomy 17:16-17 as a description of conditions during Solomon’s rule (1 Kings 4:26; 9:19; 10:14-28; 11:3).

The author’s primary concern is covenant faithfulness and loyalty to God, not political prowess. This means he gives little attention to the important political achievements of Omri, Jeroboam II, and Uzziah. On the other hand, he is intensely interested in the religious apostasy of Jeroboam I, Ahab, Ahaz, and Manasseh and in the religious reforms of Jehu, Hezekiah, and Josiah. The author has little to say about Omri’s important reign in Israel. He devotes long narratives to Omri’s son Ahab, who was less significant politically. But the ideological conflict between the Hebrew faith and Canaanite Baalism took place during Ahab’s reign (16:29-33).[footnote]B Arnold and B Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 222.[/footnote]

 

3. The Prophets

In Deuteronomy 18:21-22, the test of a true prophet is defined as whether or not his prophesies come to pass. Whereas prophecy was relatively sparse in Samuel (1 Sam.3:1), the power and fulfillment of the prophetic word is a frequent theme in Kings (e.g., I Kgs.13:1-2,5,21,26,32; 15:29; 2Kings 10:10, 17). There are 11 occasions where the prophetic word is given and fulfilled in the book. The writer shows that far from the exile being a failure of the prophetic word it was a fulfillment of it.
The author of Kings viewed the roles of the prophets as crucial in the history of the monarchy. Indeed, this was the time of the prophets par excellence. Most of the prophetic books have this period of the monarchies as their backdrop. The extensive space devoted to the ministry of Elijah and Elisha at the centre of the two books stresses the importance of prophecy to the welfare of Israel. Because of their teaching the people were without excuse in respect to their apostasy. By dwelling on the prophets the author magnifies the guilt of the people.

Prophets play a major role in this history of the Israelite monarchy. In writing about the prophets, the historian expressed interest in their message and ministry as bearers of God’s word. The prophets passionately and uncompromisingly insisted on total and undivided allegiance to the Lord, steadfastly opposing any alliance or political posture that might jeopardize the distinctive attributes of Israelite religion. Not surprisingly, this strict adherence to the covenant often set the prophets against kings and queens who were willing to compromise politically and religiously with Israel’s neighbors. Although he devoted most of his attention to the ministries of Elijah and Elisha, the writer mentioned the activities of many other prophets throughout the era of the monarchy: Nathan (1Ki 1:22), Ahijah (1Ki 11:26-39; 14:1-18), Shemaiah (1Ki 12:21-24), Micaiah (lKi22:8-28), Jonah (2Ki 14:25), Isaiah (2Ki 19:1-7, 20:1-14) and Huldah (2ki 22:14-20).[footnote]Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 492.[/footnote]

The function of prophecy in Israel was unique among nations of the ancient Near East. Other peoples had prophets, but they were clairvoyants whose purpose was to manipulate the deities. Israel’s prophets were messengers of God who confronted the king and the entire society with his holy word. Nowhere else in the world could a reigning monarch be held accountable to such a prophetic voice.[footnote]B Arnold and B Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 242.[/footnote]

 

4. The Sanctuary

The book of Kings traces out what the kings of Israel and Judah did with their responsibility to keep the Torah, especially with the requirement to centralize worship at God’s chosen place (Deut.12). This is why the building of the Jerusalem temple was of great significance to the author of Kings. Jerusalem was God’s chosen city, the city where He would place His name(1Ki.11:13,36; see also 2Ki.21:4, 7; 23:27).
After the central sanctuary was dedicated, all other worship centers were illegal. However, almost the first act of Jeroboam, when the kingdom divided was to erect rival Yahweh sanctuaries at Dan and Bethel in order to divert the religious affections of the northern tribes away from Jerusalem. All subsequent kings of Israel are measured against what Jeroboam did and all are condemned for following in his sin. The author also attacked the infiltration of Canaanite Baal worship in both kingdoms. Nearly one third of the material in Kings is devoted to the ministries of Elijah and Elisha, who labored mightily against Baalism in the northern kingdom. However, even in the South, the Canaanite high places continued to flourish and to compete with the Jerusalem temple. Just as the rival altars of Jeroboam were used by the author to measure the kings of Israel, so the high places became the yardstick to measure the kings of Judah. The worship of other gods was the main reason for the exile of both Israel and Judah (2Ki.17:7,16,19; 21:3-5).

The author also gave extensive coverage to loyalty toward God as manifested by unwavering support of the temple in Jerusalem. Of the eight Southern kings who received praise, only Hezekiah and Josiah were singled out for their incomparable devotion to Yahweh (2Ki.18:5; 23:25). Hezekiah earned highest praise for removing the high places in Judah and for his unwavering trust in God during Sennacherib’s invasion (2Ki.18:3-7). The author accorded highest honor to Josiah for his refurbishment of the temple and for his sweeping reforms in both the south and the north (2Ki.22:2; 23:25). Among the northern kings only Jehu won any commendation, which he received because he purged Israel of Baal worship (2Ki.10:30).[footnote]Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 492.[/footnote]

 

5. The Land

The centrality, importance and uniqueness of God’s role for Jerusalem (a symbolic representative of the whole land), is emphasized at various points (1 Kings 11:13, 32, 36; 2 Kings 21:4, 7; 23:27). Particular attention is given to how the Kings rebuilt and repaired Jerusalem. The land as a whole is increasingly under threat (both divine and military) as the book progresses. Sin against the covenant results in the loss of a united land, then the loss of the northern land, then the loss of the remaining land in the south.
 

6. The Apostasy

Like their kings, the people’s hearts were divided between God and Baal. This is crystallized in Elijah’s famous challenge to stop halting between two opinions and follow one God alone. Apart from temporary reforms under Hezekiah and Josiah the trend is spiraling downward from Solomon onwards.
 

7. The Punishment

The kingdom is first wrenched apart then wrenched away, the north followed by the south. The exile should not have come as a surprise to Israel as Deuteronomy makes clear that that is one of the ultimate sanctions of God against disobedience.

It appears that the writer of the Deuteronomic History deliberately sought to demonstrate the historical realization of these curses in the life of the nation: disease (28:21-22; 2Sam.24), drought (28:23-24; 1Ki.17-18), cannibalism (28:53-57; 2Ki.6:24-30), and perhaps most important, exile and defeat (28:36-37,49-52; 2Ki.17:24-32; 25:18-24).[footnote]R Dillard and T Longman III, Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 165.[/footnote]

 

8. The Repentance

There is a pronounced emphasis upon repentance in Kings. The Hebrew root usually translated “repentance” (swb) denotes a “turning” away from evil and toward the good. In key passages we find that idea coming to the fore. In Solomon’s great Temple prayer (1 Kings 8), five times (I Kgs. 8:33 ,35 ,47 ,48 ,58) he mentions the people turning back to God (i.e., “repenting”). A repeated motif in this prayer is the request that God be attentive to His people when they turn and cry out to Him: seven times he asks God to “hear from heaven” and be gracious to them.
Summarizing why Israel fell to Assyria, the author reiterates what God had repeatedly said to His people:

Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets (2Ki.17:13).

And, in high praise for Josiah, the author tells us that there was no one like this king who “turned” to the Lord with his entire being (2Ki.23:25).
 

VI. New Testament Analysis

1. Son of David

The history stressed the family of David as the centerpiece of Israel. All hopes of victory and salvation – even return from exile – were found in God’s mercy shown to and through David’s royal house. The New Testament teaches that Christ is the great son of David through whom God fulfilled all the promises made to David and his sons (Mat.1:1-17; Ac.2:22-36).[footnote]Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 493.[/footnote]

By revealing the failure of man and of human governments, 1 and 2 Kings point forward to that age when God will set up His own Kingdom, with the greater Son of David as its sovereign Head, and all nations subject to Him.[footnote]I L Jensen, Jensen’s Survey of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1978), 186.[/footnote]

 

2. No other name

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

The importance of exclusive fidelity to worship in Solomon’s temple corresponds to Christ’s call for his followers to rely on his priestly mediation alone for their salvation (Jn.14:6; Ac.4:12), as he ministers in the heavenly sanctuary now and ultimately replaces the earthly sanctuary in the new earth (Rev.21:22).[footnote]Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 493.[/footnote]

 

VII. The Message of Kings

Original Message: The nation deserved the exile, but restoration was possible through full repentance
Present Message: The Church deserves chastisement, but restoration is possible through full repentance