1 Kings 22 and 2 Kings 1-2

Good morning! We finish the book of 1 Kings today, but the stories continue seamlessly into the next book, so today’s passage also includes 2 Kings 1-2. The focus is squarely on prophets, with stories of prophets disagreeing, trumping the will of kings, transferring leadership, and misusing their power. Like kings, sometimes prophets too can abuse their power when they are not mindful of doing God’s will rather than their own.

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1 Kings 18-19

Good morning! Today in 1 Kings 18-19 we have several impressive and memorable stories about the prophet Elijah—his challenge to the prophets of Baal, and his experience of God in “the sound of sheer silence.” The first story shows us an attempt to win people’s loyalty through proof, and the second shows God’s presence not in that which is fearsome but in that which is intimate.

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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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