About this book
The First Book of Kings is the first half of a single book that was divided into two parts,1 and 2 Kings, because together they were too long to fit on one scroll. These books continue the history of Israel.
The book of 1 Kings has three parts. The first part (1—2) tells about the last years of King David's life and how his son Solomon became the king of Israel. The second part (chapters 3—11) includes events from Solomon's rule and tells how famous and rich he was. Much of this second part tells how Solomon built and dedicated the temple in Jerusalem. The last part of the book (12—22) reports what happened after Solomon's death—the northern tribes rebelled against Rehoboam his son, and the nation of Israel was divided into two separate kingdoms: Judah in the south and Israel in the north. This part of 1 Kings includes stories about the kings of these two kingdoms. The book concludes with the rule of King Jehoshaphat of Judah and King Ahaziah of Israel.
Each king in the book is judged according to his faithfulness to the Lord. If the king was faithful and obeyed God's Law, he was praised as being good; but if he disobeyed and did wrong, he was condemned as being evil. All the kings of Israel were judged to be evil, because they rejected the Lord and worshipped idols. However, most of the kings of Judah were judged to be good, because they followed the example of their ancestor King David and worshipped the Lord.
The First Book of Kings also includes the familiar stories about Elijah the prophet, who opposed the evil King Ahab and Queen Jezebel of the northern kingdom. Elijah warned the people of Israel to obey the Lord and not to worship other gods. Elijah wanted to prove that the Lord was the one true God, and so he arranged a contest between the Lord and the pagan god Baal. Elijah and the prophets of Baal would offer a sacrifice to their own God, but the fire on the altars would not be lit. Elijah explained to the people:
“How much longer will you try to have things both ways? If the Lord is God, worship him! But if Baal is God, worship him! … The prophets of Baal will pray to their god, and I will pray to the Lord. The one who answers by starting the fire is God.”
A quick look at this book
1. Solomon becomes king (1.1–53)
2. David's final words and his death (2.1–12)
3. Solomon takes control of the kingdom (2.13–46)
4. Solomon's wisdom and his officials (3.1—4.34)
5. Building and dedication of the Jerusalem temple (5.1—8.66)
6. Other events during Solomon's rule (9.1—10.29)
7. Solomon's unfaithfulness, enemies, and death (11.1–43)
8. The northern tribes of Israel rebel against King Rehoboam (12.1–24)
9. King Jeroboam of Israel makes two gold statues of calves (12.25–33)
10. Prophets condemn Jeroboam (13.1—14.20)
11. Kings of Judah and Israel (14.21—16.34)
12. Elijah the prophet (17.1—19.21)
13. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel (20.1—22.40)
14. King Jehoshaphat of Judah and King Ahaziah of Israel (22.41–53)