1 Kings 15-17

Good morning! Today’s passage first gives us in 1 Kings 15-16 some ugly (but mercifully swift) stories about various generations of kings in southern Judah and northern Israel. These brief mentions are expanded significantly in two now-lost volumes, the “Books of the Annals of the Kings” of Israel and Judah. Idolatry and civil war wreak havoc on both kingdoms according to the writer(s), but Israel gets it worse because of frequent coups. In the chaotic Israelite succession, Baasha kills Jeroboam and his family, Zimri kills Baasha’s son Elah and does the same with his family, then Omri corners Zimri, who burns the house down over himself. Omri consolidates power so that the people of Israel eventually followed him as their king for twelve years. He moved the capital of Israel to Samaria, a city that he built. For the first time in awhile, a son follows a father’s death. Ahab ascends to the throne, and we’ll spend quite a bit of time with him. The bloody deaths for so many northern kings and their families are explained to us as divine judgment on idolatrous sins, even though much the same was happening in Judah. Keep in mind that these narratives are almost certainly told from the point-of-view of the south (after Israel had fallen), so they had every reason to describe the worst behaviors of their old opponents (and kindred).

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1 Kings 13-14

Good morning! Today’s passage (1 Kings 13-14) focuses our attention largely on Jeroboam, the first king of the breakaway northern Israel. A visit by a mysterious man of God brings divine judgment and opens up a story about the reliability of prophets manifesting the word of God. When Jeroboam refuses to put a stop to idolatry, both his family and Israel suffer as a consequence. A main focus of the stories that begin here is the preoccupation with idolatry—this becomes almost the only measure of whether a ruler was righteous or not.

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1 Kings 6-7

Good morning! In today’s passage (1 Kings 6-7) we read about the building and outfitting of the temple that Solomon constructs in Jerusalem, as well as his palace-building projects. When reading these chapters, it helps to reflect on the similarities and differences with the construction of the tabernacle in Exodus. Solomon’s temple is more permanent than the tabernacle, but is less a manifestation of popular desire or divine inspiration.

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1 Kings 1-3

Good morning! Today we begin the two-part book of First and Second Kings. 1 and 2 Samuel gave us the stories of Saul and David’s leadership, then 1 and 2 Kings takes up the narrative from there. In these two books we will read of David’s son Solomon in all his glory, the construction of the temple in Jerusalem, then the civil war that breaks Israel and Judah apart, followed by the military invasions by that swallow up each territory in turn. One other feature of this historic period is the rise of prophetic power—we’ll increasingly see the dynamic of prophets both advising and challenging their kings.

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2 Samuel 18-20

Good morning! In today’s passage (2 Samuel 18-20) we consider questions of loyalty and its rewards, as we see David grieve the death of his enemy son, punish his loyal commander Joab by replacing him with an Absalom general, then show mercy to others who opposed him. We also see the fissures of division between northern Israel and southern Judah threaten civil war in the rebellion of another Israelite, Sheba.

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