The books of Kings can be hard to follow, but here I break it down in a way you can understand and relate to the rest of the books of the Old Testament.
ONE KING TO RULE THEM ALL…
Ok, for all of you Lord of the Rings fans out there, I know it’s really one ring, but just go with it…
So where were we in the story of the Old Testament? Let’s do a little recap:
- Genesis: Creation of the world, first generations of God’s people through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph
- Exodus-Deuteronomy: Israelite slaves in Egypt are freed by Moses, only to anger God and wander the desert for 40 years
- Joshua: Led by Joshua, they enter the Promised Land and go to war to claim Canaan
- Judges: Years of Israelite leaders, called judges, such as Deborah, Gideon and Samson
- Ruth: Story of redemption of Moabite woman during time of Judges who later becomes King David’s great-grandmother
- 1 & 2 Samuel: First 3 kings of Israel–Saul, David and his son Solomon
So far, so good–right? King Solomon is heir to the throne after his father David dies. When God tells him to ask for whatever he wants, he tells God he wants “a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong“. God is so pleased with his answer that he also gives him riches, honor and (if he follows God) long life.
Solomon quickly becomes famous and other leaders seek his advice. He marries Pharaoh’s daughter and enjoys a 40 year reign of peace. He even builds the Temple over seven years (to replace the traveling tabernacle Moses and the Israelites used) and covers it in the best materials money can buy.
1 Kings 6:29 says, “On the walls all around the temple, in both the inner and outer rooms, he carved cheribum, palm trees and open flowers. He also covered the floors of both the inter and outer rooms of the temple with gold.” Then he goes on to build a grand palace for himself and the Bible lists all the wealth he’s acquired. One verse said he had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses!
TWO KINGS TO RULE THEM ALL…
God had warned the Israelites back in Numbers not to intermarry with the foreign women because they would turn away from God and worship false pagan gods. But Solomon, seduced by his wealth and power, leaves his life of monogamy and marries 700 wives (in addition to his 300 concubines!). To please his wives, he sets up idols and “high places” to worship their gods: Astoreth, Chemosh and Molech (known for child sacrifice). God tells Solomon that his son’s kingdom will be divided because he turned away from God.
So…stay with me…here’s where it gets tricky: In 930 BC, rebels rise up and the KINGDOM SPLITS forming two separate kingdoms!
The Israelite kingdom (you know the one big area that’s made up of 12 tribes from Genesis), becomes:
- ISRAEL (larger, northern kingdom, ruled by rebels and murderers)
- JUDAH (smaller, southern kingdom, ruled by the line of David)
In 722 BC, the Kingdom of Israel is overthrown by the brutal Assyrians and sent into exile. Later, in 586, the Kingdom of Judah is also taken captive by the Babylonian empire. This is where we leave at the end of 2 Kings. Confused? Let me help break everything down for you…
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For more history before the kings, check out these other posts:
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