The time covered by 1Kings is about 120 years. The book begins with the death of David and closes with the death of Ahab. One Bible scholar has said, ''During this time the nation passes from affluence and influence to poverty and paralysis.'' The tragic note sounded in 1Kings 11:1 marks a turning point in Israel's history. ''But King Solomon loved many foreign women...'' As a result, the flesh prevailed over the Spirit. We therefore read these sad words in 1Kings 11:4, ''When Solomon was old, ...his wives turned away his heart after other gods.''
When 1Kings opens, Samuel is dead and David is dying. Chapter 2 tells how this shepherd, warrior, king, and psalmist went to be with the Lord. Solomon, David's son, then ascended to the throne of all Israel. This book is important because it tells a story of sharp contrast: first, Israel's greatest splendor; second, Israel's tragic downfall. After Solomon's death, there was a rebellion. The nation divided into two kingdoms-- Israel in the north and Judah in the south. King after king led the people into idolatry. It's the old story of sin followed by punishment.
Two men stand out more conspicuously than all the rest named in 1Kings-- Solomon and Elijah. The story really centers upon these two leaders. As we study these men, we fulfill the purpose for this volume-- to see Christ in every book of the Old Testament.
God has decreed that a man is going to rule this world in wisdom. Isaiah wrote, ''And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots; and the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD, ...but with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth; and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked'' (Isa 11:1,2,4).
Our Lord's millennial reign will be a time of peace and prosperity. The prophet Micah declared of Christ, ''And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it'' (Mic 4:3,4).
A temple will again stand in old Jerusalem. If you study carefully Ezekiel 40 through 48, you will learn about this magnificent edifice. The glory of the Lord will fill that place, and people of all nations will come to it. Micah predicted,
Many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob (Mic 4:2).
- And it shall be, in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem;
- half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea;
in summer and in winter shall it be.
- And the LORD shall be king over all the earth;
- in that day shall there be one LORD, and His name one.
- And it shall come to pass that everyone that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. (Zech 14:8,9,16).
From this point onward, the Lord God no longer revealed Himself primarily to kings; rather, He turned to the prophets. From 1Kings 11 to the beginning of the New Testament, God spoke to His people primarily through these specially chosen men.
In 1Kings 18 we read of two prophets, Obadiah and Elijah. Obadiah feared the Lord and fed the prophets of God who were hiding in a cave. But he lived in the house of Ahab, a compromising position! Ahab never spoke a word against Obadiah. But concerning Elijah, the wicked king said, ''Art thou he who troubleth Israel?'' (18:17). Elijah did not shrink from a confrontation with Ahab. God's exoneration of Elijah took place on Mount Carmel, and that prophet became the instrument of God's judgment upon the the prophets of both Baal and the groves [ie., places of worship to multiple idols].