The wayyyyyy too brief overview of 1 Kings
The first half of Kings is a pretty big book. It could almost be split in half, but then we would have 3 Kings chapters!
1 Kings doesn’t dedicate all of its time to one royal king like David’s books did. Instead, the opposite takes place. We jump from a super smart, lavish son to a rebel laborer of the people to a downright mean and nasty ruler. Yet, with every king, God is present and grasping to hold onto His relationship with the people of Israel.
Who are these new reckless kings?
Do the people of Israel ever become grateful for God’s love?
Will anyone ever realize worshipping a golden cow makes no sense?!
Find out now with this short overview:
Glamorous, New King
Solomon levels up and becomes the new King of Israel after David dies. The young king decides to pray and ask God for an understanding heart to lead the people.
God is pleased with his humble prayer and grants him wisdom like no other (along with tons of riches.)
Under his reign, Israel is upgraded to a land of luxury and peace. In fact, his wealth is so powerful, every plate he eats from is golden! Plus, travelers such as Queen Sheba from Arabia visit him to see proof of the riches their own eyes. (Think Bill Gates rich.) Solomon builds the House of God (holy temple) in Jerusalem and life is the best it’s been for the Israelites.
Just like his father David, Solomon too has a great fall with even worse consequences.
He trips into the trap of marrying many women from different countries through “marriage alliances” to keep the peace.
In doing so, his pagan wives bring their fake gods into the kingdom and convince Solomon to worship them. God is hurt by the betrayal and punishes Solomon by swearing his bloodline will not remain king over Israel. His son will only have power over 2 of the 12 tribes of the land.
This all turns out to come true as a man named Jeroboam becomes king over 10 tribes when Solomon dies. (Solomon’s son is only king over 2.)
Evil v.s. Good
Many evil kings reign after Jeroboam in this divided kingdom. The most awful of all kings, Ahab (with Queen Jezebel) soon comes into play. He completely tears the binding relationship with God and the people.
Ahab fills the land with pagan idols and kills all the prophets of God. Except for one powerful prophet: Elijah.
Elijah (pulls a Moses and Pharaoh act) and declares no rain will come over the land as long as Ahab worships idols. Elijah has to go on the run after the curse comes true. Still, he is always kept safe by the Lord.
Challenge on the Mountain
A challenge is set to prove the strength of the real God. Elijah is to call God to bring fire from the heavens and Ahab’s men will call their god, Baal, to do the same. Of course, no such thing happens for the worshippers of Baal!
When God casts fire on an altar for Elijah, the people of Israel come to realize the true God again. But the evil Ahab and Jezebel complicate things.
The Lord encourages Elijah to keep leading His people the right way despite being on the run. Eventually, Ahab dies as the people of Israel’s broken relationship with God attempts to heal.
This nicely wraps up a speedy summary of 1 Kings!
A lot happens in this chapter, so if you are thirsting for more knowledge, head on over to Overview Bible.
Now for the fun part! Read on to understand how messages in this book relate to our young adult lives!
Big Takeaway #1- Seek wisdom over all else.
1 Kings 3:9 – “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?”
After Solomon falls asleep sometime after offering sacrifices to the Lord, God appears to him in a dream. The Lord tells Solomon that he will grant him anything he wishes for. This verse shows us what Solomon desires.
While he could have asked for riches and glory, he does a noble thing and prays for a wise heart. God happily delivers.
The big takeaway for us young adults from 1 Kings 3:9
Wisdom and knowledge are some of the greatest gifts and are amongst the first worldly things we should pursue after the Lord.
In a battle between brawn and brains or elderly and young, the ones who are most wise usually come out on top.
When we seek wisdom and seek the Lord, He can bless us with the wisdom needed to then create worldly wealth. King Solomon’s divine wisdom is what made his kingdom so luxurious. People were inspired by the wise spirit of God in him.
Just like Solomon, we too can build up kingdoms (whether it be businesses, churches, etc.) for the Lord’s sake.
Big Takeaway #2- Seek the Lord and Wisdom first and he will take care of your worldly desires greater than you can even imagine.
1 Kings 3:11-14 – “So God said to him, ‘Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have you asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never be anyone like you nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you did not ask for – both wealth and honor – so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among Kings. And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”
This is a continuation of the conversation between Solomon and the Lord. The Lord supplies his wish of wisdom and then doubles that with all sorts of wealth. More than Solomon even dreamed to ask for!
The big takeaway for us young adults from 1 Kings 3:11-14
As mentioned above, when you seek the Lord and Wisdom to help others first, He will bless you with things you weren’t initially even seeking.
It’s like the classic saying, that if you start a business just to become rich and famous, it usually doesn’t work out. Or even if we do find success with ill intentions, it doesn’t fulfill our hearts like we thought it would. We’ve all heard the stories of the rich and famous that are still unhappy and many struggle with drugs and depression.
But, if you build that business because you love it, you’re passionate, and it truly helps others along the way, you’re much more likely to be successful and fulfilled in the long run.
When you seek God first and put others before yourself, God will provide for you what you need and far beyond that.
Big Takeaway #3- Even in the worst circumstances, that’s when God shines.
1 Kings 18:38 – “Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and even licked up the water in the trenches.”
The prophet Elijah eventually challenges King Ahab to prove a point about the true Lord. Ahab and his idols are discovered to be nothing but phonies. Yet, as soon as Elijah calls upon God to throw fire on an altar, He casts down flames so strong it scorches up the earth near it.
All the Israelites gathered on the mountain that day see the truth.
The big takeaway for us young adults from 1 Kings 18:38
No challenge is too big for the Lord!
When the circumstances are at their worst, that’s when His light can swoop in to shine and do the greatest work.
Elijah doused the altar with water, making it even a greater challenge to be set ablaze.
Still, the Lord came through and exceeded expectations, devouring parts of the land with flames. He did this to not only show His power but to get people to repent. God can always work with the tiniest amount of resources and through the toughest of circumstances.
Never feel you’re too difficult for the Lord.
Big Takeaway #4- God works in the silence.
1 Kings 19:11-12 – “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”
This verse occurs after Elijah becomes depressed and filled with a spirit of discouragement.
Even after the challenge on the mountain, Ahab and Jezebel demand the death of Elijah. As he hides in the wilderness, he begins to convince himself all his hard work was for nothing and the people won’t change.
God tells Elijah to stand on the mountaintops. Out of nowhere, strong winds and earthquakes plus fire erupt onto the land. After all these disasters of the elements disappear, only then can Elijah hear God’s voice.
The big takeaway for us young adults from 1 Kings 19:11-12
Sometimes, we’re always looking for this big sign or giant miracle to point us in the right direction. The first thing we ask for when starting a new relationship or job is, “Lord give me a sign this is right for me.”
Big, obvious signs often give us comfort and we turn to rely on them to guide our paths.
But God doesn’t always work in this way, having to show miracles and believing what you see shows little faith. Elijah had to witness all of these crazy events on the mountain because his faith had begun to stagger.
God tests our faith through silence and small subtle hints when we grow closer to Him. He doesn’t have to show us ‘signs’ as long as we’re listening to hear His whispers in the first place.
His ultimate goal is to get us to full-heartedly believe and follow His guidance without just physically seeing His glory. That’s true faith.
Up Next – 2 Kings
The story of prophets, kings, and lost people found in a loving God continues here, 2 Kings!