Introduction to the Kings

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 13, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

I was raised in the church and in Christian schools, so I have literally spent my entire life studying the Bible in various ways. But one of the parts of it where everything seems to run together in my brain is the period of the kings when the nation Israel was divided into the two kingdoms. So, what better way to learn more about the kings than to study each one in detail!

I suspect that as we dig into this time period over the next few months, we’ll find some correlations between our nation today as well. After all, these historical accounts have been preserved in the Scriptures for a reason, and we know that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). That includes all of the Old Testament, even the historical accounts of the kings.

But first, we need to look at the context of what led up to that time period in the nation of Israel. Israel had conquered the promised land in the book of Joshua. Then, in the book of Judges, we see a time period when Israel was occupying the promised land but still fighting with some neighboring peoples. Israel went through the cycle of sinning against God, being enslaved by their enemies, crying out to God to deliver them, being delivered by God, a time of peace, and then the cycle would repeat. The last verse of the book of Judges sets up the next phase in Israel’s history: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit” (Judges 21:25).

After the period of the judges, the people asked for a king through the prophet Samuel. Through Samuel, God warned the people that they would regret asking for a king: “When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the LORD will not answer you in that day” (1 Samuel 8:18). But the people insisted, so God did what Israel wanted and gave them a king.

Their first king was Saul, who was anointed by Samuel as recorded in 1 Samuel 9-10. Saul’s reign as king only lasted about 20 years, but it was filled with conflicts and wars against Israel’s enemies, though he was always victorious in these battles. But, in 1 Samuel 15, Saul disobeyed God and Samuel called him out on it, so God rejected him as the king. Then in 1 Samuel 16, we see how God sends Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint the next king.

God led Samuel to anoint David, the youngest son of Jesse, as the next king of Israel. But David did not yet step into that role; first, he went into service for Saul as an armor bearer and to play music for the king to calm him down from the evil spirit that tormented him. But after David killed Goliath (1 Samuel 17), David became a mighty warrior and Saul became afraid of him. “Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with David but had departed from Saul” (1 Samuel 18:12). Saul tried to kill David multiple times but was unsuccessful each time; David had the opportunity to kill Saul at least twice but did not act on it (1 Samuel 24 and 26).

Eventually, Saul kills himself in battle (1 Samuel 31), and then David becomes officially anointed as the king, first of Judah (2 Samuel 2:1-7) and then of Israel (2 Samuel 5:1-5). The prophet Nathan is raised up, and God gives David a great promise in 2 Samuel 7: his throne would be great, and the savior would come from his descendants! Overall, David was considered the greatest king of Israel, even though he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband Uriah killed to cover it up (2 Samuel 11). David also wrote much of the book of Psalms, which share the emotions he felt at both the highs and the lows of his life. There is so much to David’s story, including but not limited to his 40 years as king, much more than I’ll go into here, so I encourage you to read it for yourself in the books of 1 and 2 Samuel.

After David, the next king of Israel was David’s son Solomon. David had multiple wives, and his son Adonijah tried to make himself the next king, but the prophet Nathan conspired with Bathsheba to make her son with David, Solomon, the next king (1 Kings 1). Even though Solomon’s mother was the woman with whom David had committed adultery, God ordained Solomon as the next king of the nation of Israel.

King Solomon was most known for his great wisdom, and he wrote the Song of Songs, likely the book of Ecclesiates, and much of the book of Proverbs. He is also known for overseeing the building of the temple in Jerusalem. As Solomon got older, he accumulated over 700 wives and 300 concubines, who led him into worshiping pagan gods and angering God. This disobedience was what made God divide the nation of Israel:

The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’s command. So the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.” (1 Kings 11:9-13)

Solomon’s son Rehoboam took the throne next, and shortly into his reign, the nation of Israel divided (1 Kings 12). This was partly due to a disagreement between Rehoboam and Jeroboam, but also to fulfill the prophecy that God had made to Solomon. Rehoboam remained the king of the southern kingdom, known as Judah and comprised of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Jeroboam became the king of the northern kingdom, which kept the name of Israel and was comprised of the other ten tribes.

So, that sets the stage for the situation in the nation of Israel – how they started having kings and then how they split into the divided kingdom. Starting next week, I’ll begin taking a look at one king each week, chronologically from the point the kingdom divided to the the end of each kingdom, when Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 BC and Jerusalem in Judah was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II in 586 BC.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey to learn more about the history of Israel and Judah, and that together we’ll learn how those kings and their legacies can help us grow in our faith today!

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