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).
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.
Good morning! Today in 1 Kings 10-12 we see both the pinnacle of Solomon’s reputation and the plunge of Israel’s fortunes due to the ill-considered leadership that Solomon offers. His acquisition of ever more wealth and women leads to idolatrous downfall, and the kingdom splits under the equally foolish reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam.
Good morning! Today’s passage (1 Kings 8-9) has many long paragraphs concerning King Solomon’s dedication of the temple and other activities, so your normally verbose writer here will *try* to keep my comments short. 🙂
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.
Good morning! Today’s passage of 1 Kings 4-5 emphasizes again the prominence and worldwide appeal of Solomon’s reign (at least from a Hebrew perspective), then introduces the project Solomon undertakes, building the temple to God in Jerusalem.
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.
Good morning! Today at the end of 2 Samuel we have three separate items that don’t really fit together; they’re a hodgepodge of different things from the era of David. Those in 2 Samuel 23 valorize David and celebrate the successes of his fighting men, but in chapter 24 we have a more puzzling story of a failure and David’s response to God’s judgment.
Good morning! The passages for today (2 Samuel 21-22) and tomorrow record miscellaneous stories and poetry to finish out the books of Samuel. These chapters are less connected to the narrative that we have been following closely to this point, but all are reportedly from the time of David.
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.