Kings (Northern Kingdom)


1 Kings 1-11
Proverbs 1-3
1 Kings 12-22
2 Kings 1-17
Hosea 1-14
Amos 1-9
Jonah 104




930 - 722 BC


Key Concepts (How to Read)

1.  Temple and Division
2.  Rejection of God’s Kingship & Law
3.  Idolatry of the Kings of the Northern Kingdom
4.  God’s messengers – the Prophets – Speaking Truth to Power
5.  Twin Sins – Idolatry & Social Injustice
6.  Judgment and Protection of God (Day of the LORD)
7.  The First Exile

Key Sections (What it says)

Reign of Solomon – 1 Kings 1-11
 -  Wisdom – 1 Kings 3
 -  Creation of Temple – 1 Kings 8
 -  Wives and idolatry – 1 Kings 11

Ahijah the prophet calls Jeroboam – 1 Kings 11:26-40.  God’s promise to David kept, but the majority of the kingdom taken from Solomon’s son.

Rehoboam loses the north – 1 Kings 12:1-20. 

Jeroboam becomes the first king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and sets the stage for all the kings who follow him.
-       Fearing the people would return to Jerusalem to worship, he made golden calves and built altars at Dan and Bethel, setting up his own non-Levite priests.  1 Kings 12:25-33.
-       Jeroboam is rejected as king – 1 Kings 14:7-14.  Pattern begins of short-term dynasties in the North, each overthrown by someone raised up by a prophet.
-       The cycle in Judges is now external AND internal
-       There will be 19 kings in Israel, and ALL did evil in the eyes of God!

Worst King of Israel – Abab and his queen, Jezebel
-       Jezebel was the daughter of the King of the Sidonians in northern Phoenicia.
-       Together they devoted Israel to the worship of Baal – 1 Kings 16:29-33.
-       Theft of Naboth’s Vineyard – 1 Kings 21:1-26

The Prophets in the North

-       Note the distinction between prophets and judges.  Political power is now divorced from God’s voice. 
-       Elijah and Elisha
-       Hosea – Adultery of Israel – Hosea 1:2-3
-       Amos – Israel has no justice, takes bribes, and abuses the poor.  Religious obedience without justice is evil – Amos 5:21-24.  Day of the LORD – Amos 5:18
-       Jonah – Unwillingly goes to Ninevah, capital of Assyria, many repent and believe (unlike in Israel)

Elijah – represents the prophetic period, core message of repentance.
-       Key miracle – after stopping the rain for three years, Elijah challenges Ahab and the prophets of Baal to a divine showdown.  1 Kings 18
-       Raised the dead child of the widow of Zarephath – 1 Kings 17:17-24
-       Ascended to heaven without dying in a chariot of fire – 2 Kings 1-13.

Elisha – given the mantle of Elijah and a double portion of his spirit.
-       Incredible miracles!  Everything from raising the dead the dead (2 Kings 32-37) to  feeding multitudes (2 Kings 4:42-44). 
-       Seeing the spiritual world – 2 Kings 6:15-19.  What Israel is missing during this season!

The First Exile – Assyria – 2 Kings 17
Geopolitics – Egypt, Assyria, Babylon
Theopolitics – Rejecting the Law, Ignoring the Prophets, has Covenantal consequences


Conversation: Discussion Questions

1.     Why do you suppose the Bible so closely associates Solomon’s many wives of many nations and his descent into idolatry?  What lessons are there for us in this story?

2.     What parts of Elijah’s and Elisha’s stories remind you of Jesus?

3.     Our society’s worldview tends to divide the concerns of the prophets into categories – concern about religious purity (conservative), and concern about social injustice (liberal).  But the prophets make no such distinctions, and even suggest that one without the other is worthless.  How can we avoid this false dichotomy?

4.     God’s choice to challenge the people and kings of Israel through the prophets is an interesting one.  Despite the amazing miracles and accurate foreknowledge of the prophets, they usually seem like the underdog compared to the Kings they rebuke.  How are we in a similar situation in our world?  Where are we called to speak truth to power, trusting that “he who is in us is great than he who is in the world?”

5.     Why does God finally reject Israel and send them into exile? 

6.     In the Old Testament, God’s justice always comes in two forms – the immediate and the upcoming.  In the exile of Israel, we see both - God’s immediate justice, and the promised judgment that he had delayed for generations, in hopes that we would repent.  How do we reconcile God’s desire with justice, coupled with his delay for our repentance, in our lives today?

7.     Why do you think the people of Ninevah (the Assyrian capital) repented when Jonah came, but the people of Samaria (the Israelite capital) did not repent when prophets came to them?

8.     Hosea uses the language of adultery to describe Israel’s unfaithfulness to Yahweh.  How is this a helpful metaphor for our sin?  Does seeing God as the long-suffering husband change your view of him?  Of ourselves?


Next week we will focus on the Southern Kingdom of Judah.  See you then!