The book of First Kings tells the story of the kings of Israel who came after David.
Like First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings began as one continuous story but are separated in two in the Bible because ancient copies of the book were written on two scrolls.
In Second Samuel, God promised David to bring a Messianic King from David’s line, but none of the kings in First Kings live up to that promise.
The story begins with David passing the throne to his son, Solomon. David’s dying wish is that Solomon remain faithful to God and His commands. Though Solomon began as a promising king by asking God for wisdom and building the Temple David wished to build, he made some fatal decisions that impacted Israel for generations like introducing the worship of foreign gods in Israel and instituting slave labor.
By the end of his reign, Solomon resembled an Egyptian pharaoh more than he resembled his father David.
After Solomon’s death, his son, Rehoboam, takes over and does evil in the eyes of the Lord. During his reign, the northern tribes of Israel secede and the nation splits in two. The north is called Israel and the south is called Judah.
While a few of the kings tried to remain faithful to God, most of them abandoned God for false gods.
The book of First Kings introduces the role of the prophet in Israel. Prophets were not fortunetellers or psychics, but were men who spoke on God’s behalf. When God was displeased with Israel’s idolatry or injustice, He would raise up a prophet to remind the people and the king to repent and follow God and His commands.
First Kings 17 introduces the prophet Elijah. God raised up Elijah during the reign of King Ahab, who established the worship of the Canaanite god Baal in Israel. The rest of the book tells many miraculous stories of God using Elijah to challenge Baal and prove His power over all other gods.
The book ends with the death of King Ahab and the succession of his son who “did evil in the eyes of the Lord, because he followed the ways of his father” (1 Kings 22:52).
The God of Israel is the One, true God: Throughout First Kings, God uses some kings and the prophets to show Israel that He is the One, true God. When the nation kept turning to worship idols and false gods, God would powerfully display His supreme authority and His desire for Israel to worship Him alone.
1 Kings 3:8-9: “‘Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?’”
1 Kings 18:36-39: “At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: ‘Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’ Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!’”
HOW DOES THIS FIT INTO GOD’S STORY?
First Kings reveals two things about God: God is the One, true God, greater than all idols and false gods, and only He can save His people.
God promised David that a King with an eternal Kingdom would come from his line, but none of the kings of Israel in First Kings lived up to that promise. In fact, they only made the nation worse.
First Kings underscores the need for the Messiah—the Savior King—Jesus Christ.