As with the 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings can be considered a single unit, separated only by the amount of words that could be fit on a scroll. They continue the story of the nation of Israel, inheriting the united kingdom that had existed for almost eighty years under Saul and David.
As the first book of Kings opens, David is only nominally on the throne, and we’re immediately plunged into a succession intrigue. The featured actors are David’s oldest remaining son, Adonijah, and Solomon, the son of Bathsheba. When Adonijah exalted himself, saying, “I will be king,” and attracts Joab and Abiathar to his side, two crises emerge: First, that David is weak and seemingly out of touch with his kingdom; and second, that the king of Israel has to this point been anointed by a prophet. Anyone who has taken the crown for himself – Abimelech, Absalom, Sheba – has been doomed.
So much is hinted at in these first chapters that the imagination can run. The observation about David’s relationship with Abishag might be highlighting David’s virtue or his feebleness. The author makes sure we know that Adonijah is so handsome – which in Samuel and Kings is the kiss of death. He sheds light on David’s parenting, his grievances, and on his steady gratitude to the LORD, “who has granted someone to sit on my throne this day, my own eyes seeing it.”
Chapter 2 is a pivot to a clean slate. The story of David, as well as those of Adonijah, Abiathar, Shimei, and even Joab are brought to a close. The kingdom is established in the hand of Solomon, who, it is observed, loved the LORD, walking in the ways of David his father, [however] he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places. This crescendo reaches a peak when in chapter 3 the LORD comes to Solomon in a dream, and invites him to “Ask what I shall give to you.” The rest of the chapter, and the rest of Solomon’s life, will bear witness to his response.
It seems fitting to close today with this epitaph: Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David. And the time that David reigned over Israel was forty years. He reigned seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. So Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.
Our verse for this week is Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
1 Kings 1 through 3. Now let’s read it!
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.