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key theme: Irresponsible leadership destroys nations

1 Kings 2. Adonijah’s Presumption (5)

2. Adonijah’s presumption (5)

a. Exalted himself: 2 Samuel 3:2–5 describes the sons of David and lists Adonijah as the fourth son. We know that two of the three sons older than Adonijah are dead (Amnon and Absalom), and we suspect that the other older son (Chileab) either also died or was unfit to rule because he is never mentioned after 2 Samuel 3:3. As the oldest living son of David, by many customs Adonijah would be considered the heir to the throne. But the throne of Israel was not left only to the rules of hereditary succession; God determined the next king.

i. Adonijah violated a basic principle in the Scriptures—that we should let God exalt us and not exalt ourselves.

For exaltation comes neither from the east

Nor from the west nor from the south.

But God is the Judge: He puts down one,

And exalts another. (Psalm 75:6–7)

Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)

b. He prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him: Adonijah had a good marketing campaign, and he knew how to present himself as king. He hoped that if he put forth the image of a king, he would become king in reality.

i. “In effect this was a personal military force designed to anticipate Solomon’s claim by a coup d’etat. (Out) runners were part of a close royal bodyguard.” (Wiseman)

ii. Adonijah was the brother of Absalom, and a look at 2 Samuel 15:1 shows, “He copied the conduct of his brother Absalom in every respect.” (Clarke)

3. Adonijah’s character (6)

a. His father had not rebuked him at any time: Sadly, David did not do a very good job raising his own sons. David failed to restrain his passions in some areas of his life; his sons showed a much greater inability to restrain their passions. In part this was because David did not discipline his own sons well.

i. David did not seem to have a very good relationship with his father (1 Samuel 16:11). The godly influence in his life seems to be more from his mother than from his father. Twice in the Psalms he refers to his mother as a maidservant of the LORD (Psalm 86:16 and 116:16). It is likely that David did not have a good example of parenting from his father.

ii. Yet, this does not excuse David’s deficiencies as a father. He knew how his Heavenly Father treated him—how he was comforted and helped by the correcting rod and staff of his Shepherd (Psalm 23:4). He could have learned how to be a good father from his Father in heaven. Even before it was written, David could have known the counsel of Proverbs 29:17: Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul.

iii. “David was ever too fond a father, and he smarted for it.” (Trapp)

b. He was also very good-looking: David was a handsome man and was attracted to beautiful women. It doesn’t surprise us that David’s children were very good-looking. This gave them an unfair and unfortunate advantage.

4. Adonijah’s banquet (7–10)

a. They followed and helped Adonijah: Sadly, Joab (David’s chief general) and Abiathar (the high priest of Israel) each supported Adonijah. They did not consult the LORD or David in giving their support to this unworthy son of David.

i. It is sad to see these once trusted associates of David turning against him late in his life. Joab may have sought revenge for David’s choice of Amasa over him (2 Samuel 19:13), and because Benaiah now had more authority over military affairs. Abiathar might have been jealous of Zadok the high priest (2 Samuel 8:17). “Professional rivalry had darkened into bitter hate.” (Maclaren)

ii. “Joab, the most powerful of Adonijah’s supporters, had always been fiercely loyal to David, but not to David’s wishes. In supporting Adonijah’s pretentions to the throne, Joab was acting characteristically.” (Patterson and Austel)

iii. “Joab and Abiathar tarnished a life’s devotion and broke sacred bonds, because they thought of themselves rather than of God’s will.” (Maclaren)

b. Nathan … Zadok … and the mighty men who belonged to David were not with Adonijah: Fortunately, there were some prominent people in Israel who did not support Adonijah.

c. Sacrificed sheep and oxen and fattened cattle: The idea is that Adonijah would burn the fat of these animals as a sacrifice to the LORD, and he would use the meat to hold a dinner honoring and blessing his supporters.

i. Yet it was important that this was both a sacrifice and a feast. “He had not only a splendid feast, but a great sacrifice; and he gave by this a popular colour to his pretensions, by affecting to receive his authority from God.” (Clarke)

B. Nathan and Bathsheba intercede for Solomon [1:11–27]

1. Nathan tells his plan to Bathsheba (11–14)

a. And David our LORD does not know it: This shows both the wrong of Adonijah’s attempt to take the throne and how far removed from power David really was. He didn’t know what was going on around him in the kingdom.

b. That you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon: Nathan knew that if Adonijah became king he would immediately kill every potential rival to his throne, including Bathsheba and Solomon.

c. Your son Solomon shall reign after me: David made this promise to Bathsheba. The specific promise is not recorded before, but we know from 1 Chronicles 22:5–9 that David did in fact intend for Solomon to succeed him as king.

i. It was a remarkable display of grace—that a son of the wife David took through adultery and murder in the most infamous scandal of his life should become his heir to the throne.

d. While you are still talking there with the king, I also will come in after you and confirm your words: Nathan knew that David was generally indulgent towards his sons and would find it hard to believe that Adonijah would do such a thing. He arranged it so the message would be presented in a convincing way.

1 Kings A. God Gives Solomon Wisdom (3:1–15)

A. God gives Solomon wisdom [3:1–15]

1. Solomon marries an Egyptian princess (1)

a. Solomon made a treaty with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and married Pharaoh’s daughter: Marriage to fellow royalty was a common political strategy in the ancient world, and continues to the modern age. It was not only because royalty wanted to marry other royalty, but also because conflict between nations were then avoided for the sake of family ties.

i. This was not Solomon’s first marriage. 1 Kings 14:21 tells us that his son Rehoboam came to the throne when he was 41 years old, and 1 Kings 11:42 tells us that Solomon reigned 40 years. This means that Rehoboam was born to his mother—a wife of Solomon named Naamah the Amonitess—before he came to the throne and before he married this daughter of Pharaoh.

ii. Solomon’s multiple marriages—and marriages to foreign women—will cause a great disaster in his life. Later in the Book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah was angry and frustrated because the people of Israel married with the pagan nations around them. In rebuking the guilty, Nehemiah remembered Solomon’s bad example: So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God; and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless pagan women caused even him to sin. Should we then hear of your doing all this great evil, transgressing against our God by marrying pagan women?” (Nehemiah 13:25–27)

iii. The foreign wives made Solomon more than a bad example—they ruined his spiritual life. But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites; from the nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. (1 Kings 11:1–4)

iv. 1 Kings 11:4 says this only happened when Solomon was old, but the pattern was set with this first marriage to the Egyptian princess. It perhaps made political sense, but not spiritual sense. “Such arranged marriages were a common confirmation of international treaties, but this one was the beginning of Solomon’s spiritual downfall.” (Wiseman)

v. 2 Samuel 3:3 tells us that David married the daughter of a foreign king: Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur. Marrying a foreign woman was not against the Law of Moses—if she became a convert to the God of Israel. What did not ruin David did ruin Solomon.

b. He brought her to the City of David: Though this was permitted under the Law of Moses, it was not wise or good for Solomon to do this. Later in his life, his foreign wives were the reason his heart turned away from the LORD (1 Kings 11:4).

i. Old legends of Jewish rabbis say that on their wedding night, the Egyptian princess cast a spell on Solomon and put a tapestry over their bed that looked like the night sky with stars and constellations. The spell was intended to make Solomon sleep, and when he did wake he looked up and thought the stars were still out and it was still night so he went back to sleep. He slept on past 10:00 in the morning and all Israel was grieved because Solomon kept the keys to the temple under his pillow and they couldn’t have the morning sacrifice until he woke up. Finally his mother Bathsheba roused him from sleep. (Cited in Ginzberg)

1 Kings B. An Example of Solomon’s Great Wisdom (3:16–28)

B. An example of Solomon’s great wisdom [3:16–28]

1. Two women claim the same child as their own (16–22)

a. Two women who were harlots came to the king and stood before him: This in itself is a remarkable testimony to the goodness and generosity of Solomon. Not many kings would take the time to settle a dispute between two prostitutes.

i. However, many think that these were not harlots at all. “Hebrew zonot, could equally refer to inn-keepers.” (Wiseman)

b. The dead one is your son, and the living one is my son: This seemed like an impossible problem to solve. It was surely one prostitutes’ word against the other, and there was no independent witness to the events (no one was with us in the house).

2. Solomon’s wise solution (23–27)

a. Bring me a sword: Solomon’s solution to the problem at first looked foolish—even dangerous. The wisdom of his approach was only understood when the matter was settled.

i. In the same way, the works—even the judgments—of God often first seem strange, dangerous, or even foolish. Time shows them to be perfect wisdom.

ii. Trapp on bring me a sword: “For what purpose? Thought the standers by; wondering and perhaps laughing within themselves. The actions of wise princes are riddles to vulgar constructions: nor is it for the shallow capacities of the multitude to fathom the deep projects of sovereign authority.”

b. She yearned with compassion for her son: The true parental relationship was proved by love. The true mother would rather have the child live without her than to die with her. She put the child’s welfare above her own.

c. She is his mother: Solomon knew that the offer to cut the child in two would reveal the true mother, and he rewarded the mother’s love accordingly.

3. Solomon is highly esteemed in the eyes of the people of Israel (28)

a. All Israel heard: Such a wise decision could not be hidden. The matter was soon known throughout the kingdom.

b. They feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice: The people of Israel saw that Solomon had both the wisdom and the courage to do the right thing as a leader. This made them hesitant to disobey the law of the king.

i. The old Jewish rabbis loved to go beyond the Bible and spin legends about Solomon’s wisdom. Ginzberg quotes one, telling of the time when a demon showed Solomon something he had never seen before—a Cainite, whom the demon brought up out of the ground, and Solomon immediately saw that he had two heads. When the Cainite wanted to return again, he could not go back to his dwelling place deep under the earth. So he married and had seven sons, one of whom also had two heads. When the two-headed father died, the two-headed son claimed a double share of the inheritance, but the other six brothers thought he should only get one. The Sanhedrin couldn’t decide the case, so Solomon prayed for wisdom and finally poured hot water on one of the heads. When he did, both heads flinched and cried out, and from this Solomon deduced that they were one person not two and should only have one share of the inheritance.

1 Kings Preparations to Build the Temple (1 Kings 5)

1 Kings 5—Preparations to Build the Temple

A. Solomon’s arrangements with Hiram of Tyre [5:1–12]

1. Solomon’s message to Hiram of Tyre (1–6)

a. For Hiram had always loved David: David was a mighty warrior against the enemies of Israel. But he did not regard every neighbor nation as an enemy. David wisely built alliances and friendships with neighbor nations, and the benefit of this also came to Solomon.

i. “Hiram is an abbreviation of Ahiram which means ‘Brother of Ram,’ or ‘My brother is exalted,’ or ‘Brother of the lofty one.’ … Archaeologists have discovered a royal sarcophagus in Byblos of Tyre dated about 1200 B.C. inscribed with the king’s name, ‘Ahiram.’ Apparently it belonged to the man in this passage.” (Dilday)

b. Then Solomon sent to Hiram: “According to Josephus, copies of such a letter along with Hiram’s reply were preserved in both Hebrew and Tyrian archives and were extant in his day (Antiquities, 8.2.8).” (Dilday)

c. You know how my father David could not build a house for the name of the LORD his God: This means that David told Hiram spiritual things, things that one might think Hiram could not understand or be interested in. In some ways, David spoke to Hiram as if Hiram were already an Israelite.

i. This chapter deals with Solomon’s work in obtaining the materials to build the temple. Yet David was so interested in this work that he had already gathered many of the supplies needed to build the temple (2 Chronicles 22:4).

d. Until the LORD put his foes under the soles of his feet: “To put enemies under the feet was the symbolic act marking conquest. In contemporary art enemies were often depicted as a footstool (as Psalm 110:1).” (Wiseman)

e. There is neither adversary nor evil occurrence: The word adversary here is literally Satan. The Latin Vulgate translates this, “nor a Satan.”

f. I propose to build a house for the name of the LORD my God: Of course, Solomon did not build a temple for a name but for a living God. This is a good example of avoiding direct mention of the name of God in Hebrew writing and speaking. They did this out of reverence to God.

i. Solomon also used this phrase because he wanted to explain that he didn’t think the temple would be the house of God in the way pagans thought. “It is to be ‘an house for the name of the LORD.’ That is not the same as ‘for the LORD.’ Pagan temples might be intended by their builders for the actual residence of the god, but Solomon knew that the heaven of heavens could not contain Him, much less this house which he was about to build.” (Maclaren)

1 Kings The Dedication of the Temple (1 Kings 8)

1 Kings 8—The Dedication of the Temple

A. The Ark of the Covenant is brought to the temple [8:1–21]

1. All of Israel assembles at Jerusalem (1–2)

a. Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel: Solomon intended this to be a spectacular “opening ceremony” for the temple. It was probably on the scale of the large productions in our modern Olympic opening ceremonies.

b. That they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD: The temple wasn’t “open” until the ark of the covenant was set in the most holy place. The ark was the most important item in the temple.

c. Which is the seventh month: The temple was finished in the eighth month (1 Kings 6:38), but Solomon chose the seventh month for the dedication, eleven months later, “Which time he chose with common respect to his people’s convenience, because now they had gathered in all their fruits, and now they were come up to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of tabernacles.” (Poole)

i. There may have also been another reason. “It has already been observed that Solomon deferred the dedication of the temple to the following year after it was finished, because that year, according to Archbishop Usher, was a jubilee.” (Clarke)

2. The ark of the covenant is set in the Holy of Holies (3–9)

a. The priests took up the ark: Solomon was careful to obey what God commanded about transporting the ark of the covenant, that it was only to be carried by priests. He will not repeat the error of his father David in 2 Samuel 6:1–8.

b. And all the holy furnishings that were in the tabernacle: The ark of the covenant was the most important item in the temple, but not the only item. They also brought the lampstand, the table of showbread, and the altar of incense from the tabernacle into the temple.

i. “It is generally agreed that there were now two tabernacles, one at Gibeon, and the other in the city of David, which one David had constructed as a temporary residence for the ark.” (Clarke)

c. Sacrificing sheep and oxen that could not be counted or numbered for multitude: Solomon went “over-the-top” in his effort to honor and praise God on this great day.

d. Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb: At an earlier point in Israel’s history there were three items in the ark of the covenant. Earlier, inside the ark were the golden pot that had the manna (Exodus 16:33), Aaron’s rod that budded (Numbers 17:6–11), and the tablets of the covenant (Exodus 25:16). We don’t know what happened to the golden pot of manna and Aaron’s rod, but they were not in the ark when Solomon set it in the most holy place.

e. When the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt: The reminder of the deliverance from Egypt is significant, because there is a sense in which this—some 500 years after the Exodus—is the culmination of the deliverance from Egypt. Out of Egypt and into the wilderness Israel, out of necessity, lived in tents—and the dwelling of God was a tent. Now since Solomon built the temple, the dwelling of God among Israel was a building, a place of permanence and security.

3. The glory of God fills the temple (10–13)

a. The cloud filled the house of the LORD: This was the cloud of glory, seen often in the Old and New Testaments, sometimes called the cloud of Shekinah glory. It is hard to define the glory of God; we could call it the radiant outshining of His character and presence. Here it is manifested in a cloud.

1 Kings 10:6–9 NKJV
Then she said to the king: “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard. Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord has loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.”
3. THE KINGDOM DIVIDED(11:1-14:31)
1 Kings Solomon’s Decline and Death (1 Kings 11)

1 Kings 11—Solomon’s Decline and Death

A. Solomon’s apostasy [11:1–13]

1. Solomon’s unlawful marriages (1–3)

1 Kings 1. Solomon’s Unlawful Marriages (1–3)

a. Solomon loved many foreign women: There are two obvious problems here. First, that he loved foreign women who worshipped other gods and brought pagan influences to Israel. Second, that he loved many women, rejecting God’s plan from the beginning for one man and one woman to become one flesh in marriage (Matthew 19:4–6, Genesis 2:23–24).

b. Nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them”: God gave a general warning to all Israel to not intermarry with these nations, because surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods. For all Solomon’s great wisdom, he did not have the wisdom to apply this simple command to his own life.

i. Solomon probably did what many of us do. He somehow thought that he would be the exception, that he would escape the consequences of this sin, despite seeing how it affected others. Solomon learned—or should have learned—that he was not the exception to this rule.

1 Kings B. Two Kings of Israel (15:25–34)

B. Two kings of Israel [15:25–34]

1. The short reign of Nadab, king of Israel (25–32)

a. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father: Nadab, this son of Jeroboam did as his father did, continuing in his idolatry and harness towards God.

i. 2 Chronicles 11:14 specifically tells us that both Jeroboam and his sons were responsible for driving God’s priests out of the land of Israel. In this, Nadab directly shared in the sins of his father Jeroboam.

ii. “Nadab’s name means willing; and he appears to have been too willing to continue in, and perpetuate, the sin of his iniquitous father.” (Knapp)

b. Baasha killed him in the third year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place. And it was so, when he became king, that he killed all the house of Jeroboam: This was the end of the dynasty of Jeroboam. Had Jeroboam remained obedient to the LORD, God promised him a lasting dynasty like the house of David (1 Kings 11:38). Because of Jeroboam’s sin, though he enjoyed a long reign, his son only reigned two years before assassination of Nadab and the murder of all Jeroboam’s descendants.

i. “Thus God made use of one wicked man to destroy another.” (Clarke)

ii. “Nadab was king little more than one year, but since it covered parts of two years, Hebrew time measurement reckons his reign as two years.” (Dilday)

c. According to the word of the LORD which He had spoken by His servant Ahijah: This word is recorded in 1 Kings 14:7–16.

i. “So ended the first of the nine dynasties that for two hundred and fifty years ruled (or misruled) the kingdom of Israel.” (Knapp)

2. The reign of Baasha, king of Israel (33–34)

a. Baasha the son of Ahijah became king over all Israel: As expected with a man who came to the throne through assassination, Baasha was a wicked man and ushered in a dreadful period for Israel, both spiritually and politically.

b. He did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam: The summary puts it simply. Though Baasha was not a genetic descendent of Jeroboam (having murdered his family), he was certainly a spiritual descendent of Jeroboam.

1 Kings The Early Ministry of Elijah (1 Kings 17)

ngs 17—The Early Ministry of Elijah

A. Elijah prays for drought and experiences God’s provision [17:1–7]

1. Elijah tells of the LORD’s judgment (1)

a. Elijah the Tishbite: At this crucial time in the history of Judah and Israel, the Prophet Elijah suddenly appeared. He became the dominant spiritual force in Israel during the dark days of Ahab’s apostasy.

i. The name Elijah means, Yahweh is my God. In the days when Ahab’s government officially supported the worship of Baal and other gods, even the name of this prophet told the truth.

ii. It was a crucial time in the history of Israel. It looked as if the worship of the true God might be completely eliminated in the northern kingdom. “The land swarmed with the priests of Baal and of the groves—proud of Court favour; glorying in their sudden rise to power; insolent, greedy, licentious, and debased. The fires of persecution were lit, and began to burn with fury.” (Meyer)

iii. “The whole land seemed apostate. Of all the thousands of Israel, only seven thousand remained who had not bowed the knee or kissed the hand to Baal. But they were paralysed with fear; and kept so still, that their very existence was unknown by Elijah in the hour of his great loneliness.” (Meyer)

b. There shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word: This was a dramatic demonstration against the pagan god Baal, who was thought to be the sky god, the god of the weather. Elijah showed that through his prayers to the God of Israel, Yahweh was mightier than Baal.

i. “The old religion against the new; the child of nature against the effeminate child of the courts; camel’s hair against soft clothing; moral strength against moral weakness.” (Meyer)

ii. Elijah was not merely the prophet of this drought—in the sense of prayer, he was the cause of the drought. He prayed and it happened. James 5:17–18 makes this clear: Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

c. As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand: This statement of Elijah shows the source of his strength. It is specifically said Elijah was a man with a nature like ours (James 5:17). Yet he showed a strength greater than most of us in our life with God. We must pay attention to these indications to the source of Elijah’s strength.

i. As the LORD God of Israel lives: Everyone else felt that the LORD was dead, but for Elijah the LORD lived. He was the supreme reality of Elijah’s life.

ii. Before whom I stand: He stood in the presence of Ahab, but he was conscious of the presence of someone greater than any earthly king. Gabriel himself could not choose a higher title (Luke 1:19).


1 Kings Elijah’s Victory at Carmel (1 Kings 18)

1 Kings 18—Elijah’s Victory at Carmel

A. Elijah meets Ahab [18:1–19]

1. The end of the drought (1–2)

a. In the third year: This remarkable drought lasted three and one-half years by the fervent prayer of Elijah.

b. Go, present yourself to Ahab: Earlier God told Elijah to hide himself. Now it was time to present himself. There is a time to hide and be alone with God, and there is also a time to present our self to the world. Some wish to always remain hidden when they should step up and present themselves.

i. Elijah simply obeyed God’s command. Though it happened through the prayers of Elijah, his prayers were sensitive to the leading of God. The drought did not begin or end as a result of Elijah’s will, but at God’s will.

2. Elijah meets Obadiah (3–14)

a. While Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water: This man Obadiah was a brave man who stood for God and His prophets in a difficult time.

i. This may be the same Obadiah whose prophecy against Edom is recorded among the Minor Prophets. It is a little difficult to be certain, because there were 13 Obadiahs in the Old Testament. The Hebrew name Obadiah means “Worshipper of Yahweh” or “Servant of Yahweh.”

• An Obadiah was sent out by King Jehoshaphat of Judah to teach the law in the cities of Judah (2 Chronicles 17:7)

• An Obadiah was one of the overseers who helped repair the temple in the days of Josiah, King of Judah (2 Chronicles 34:12)

• An Obadiah was a priest in the days of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10:5)

ii. One hundred prophets: “Prophets: this name is not only given to such as are endowed with an extraordinary spirit of prophecy, but to such ministers as devoted themselves to the service of God in preaching, praying, praising God, and the like.” (Poole)

iii. “Account for it how you may, it is a singular circumstance that in the center of rebellion against God there was one whose devotion to God was intense and distinguished. As it is horrible to find a Judas among the apostles, so it is grand to discover an Obadiah among Ahab’s courtiers. What grace must have been at work to maintain such a fire in the midst of the sea, such godliness in the midst of the vilest iniquity!” (Spurgeon)


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