Tag Archives: 1 Kings

Through the Bible, April 26

Reading: 1 Kings 21-22

Summary: Perhaps the crowning event (negatively speaking) of Ahab’s reign is the seizure of Naboth’s property.  For this God issues his judgment against Ahab’s house. Surprisingly, Ahab repents and God decides to postpone his punishment.

Of interest is the fact that the closest alliance achieved between Israel and Judah took place during the reigns of Israel’s worst king, Ahab, and one of Judah’s better kings, Jehoshaphat.

Devotional Thought:

Why Would God Listen?

Would God listen to me?  Really?

After the mistakes I’ve made and the ways I have failed Him?  Would He really respond to anything I did or said?

We might tend to think not, but then there’s Ahab.

Ahab was a horrible man.  The Bible even says, “There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab” (1 Kings 21:25).

Yet, when Ahab heard from Elijah of God’s judgment against him and his house, he repented.  God recognized and acknowledged that repentance.  God listened and responded to Ahab!  Ahab!!

Did Ahab deserve such compassion and mercy from God?  No, he did not.  And, no, neither do I.

Why is it that the magnitude of God’s mercy and compassion and grace should consistently surprise us?  “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Ex. 34:6-7).

Yes, God would listen to me.  Really.

Through the Bible; April 25

Reading: 1 Kings 19-20

Summary: The saga of Ahab and Elijah continues.  Notice how in this portion of the Bible devoted to the monarchy (the books are called “Kings” after all) that Scripture’s attention is directed primarily to the ongoing confrontation between God’s prophet and the wicked king, as the role of Judah’s king, Jehoshaphat, remains in the background.  The book of 2 Chronicles provides further details of Jehoshaphat’s reign, as well as those of Abijam and Asa (see the reading introduction for April 30).

Devotional Thought:

The Sound of God

What does God sound like?

Few people have ever heard God, literally.  He spoke audibly at Jesus’ baptism, on the Mount of Transfiguration, and once in Jerusalem.  On that occasion those who heard it thought it had thundered or that an angel had spoken (John 12:28).  I’ve always imagined a deep, booming, baritone voice.

Whatever His voice sounds like, it must be impressive, right?  Unmistakable and memorable.  That’s just how God does things.

Then there is the instance of God speaking to despondent Elijah on Mount Horeb.  God set the whole thing up by first a great strong wind (that even “tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks”), then an earthquake, and finally a fire.  But God was in none of those.  Lastly came the sound of a “low whisper”.  The ESV footnote offers “thin silence” as a possible rendering (1 Kings 19:12).  That’s where God was.

The point is, I believe, that we need to pay attention.  It would seem that a “thin silence” would be easy to miss.  We don’t want to miss God.

Also, we need to anticipate God in unexpected places.  Great wind?  Yes.  Earthquake? Yes. Fire? Yes.  Low whisper?  Not really.  I must look for God where He is, not where I expect Him to be.

Further, we may need to be still and quiet to catch a “still, small voice” (KJV).  We’re not geared for silence and quiet.  Hardly ever.  “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).  Maybe would should be quiet too.

Whatever God sounds like, I dare not miss hearing Him.

Through the Bible, April 24

Reading: 1 Kings 16:29-18:46

Summary: Though Jeroboam is well noted for his great sin as king, it is Ahab who receives the designation of Israel’s worst king (1 Kings 16:33).  And, Scripture is sure to point out that he had help.  His choice of a wife, Jezebel, the daughter of the Sidonian king, proves one of the worst decisions in history.  It is she who is credited (?) with the promotion of Baal worship in Israel, for which the nation would ultimately be punished by God through Assyrian captivity.

In these evil times God raises up one of the greatest of His prophets–some would argue the greatest–Elijah the Tishbite, in response to the evil ruling couple.

Devotional Thought:

What God Says, God Does

It’s really just an incidental reference. It comes as we are being introduced to Ahab for the first time.  Ahab splashes on the scene in dramatic fashion.  He’s the worst king there has been.  What about Jeroboam, the one who has become the measure of evil kings? Of Ahab it is said, “And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him”  ( 1 Kings 16:31).  It’s like he was saying, “If you thought Jeroboam was bad, just watch me.”

So, Ahab really grabs our attention, then the text slips this side note in: “In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun” (1 Kings 16:34).

Yes, Joshua had prophesied at the time the Israelites destroyed Jericho that anyone who rebuilt it would do so at the cost of his own offspring.  And it happened, just as he had said.

Here’s the point: what God says happens.  Mark it down.

It’s what the New Testament reminds us, “Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  For the one who sows to his flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7).

Don’t forget.

Through the Bible, April 23

Reading: 1 Kings 15:1-16:28

Summary: The next kings of Judah are Abijam, Asa, and Jehoshaphat while the kings of Israel are Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, and Omri.

It should be remembered that in Judah all of the kings remain in the ancestral line of David, but in Israel there are multiple dynasties.  Baasha, Zimri, and Omri all represent new lines of kings in the North.  Assassination is the typical initiation for each new ruling family.

Devotional Thought:

What’s Your Story?

So, what is your story?

No, not what are the facts and details of your life up to this point in time; that’s one thing.  The story you tell (mostly to yourself) from those events is what I’m talking about.  “Aren’t those the same thing?” you ask.  No, they are not.

Remember, it’s not what happens to you that’s important, but rather your attitude about those things.  So what attitudes have you developed based on the events of your life?  Two people can experience the exact same circumstances and emerge with vastly different outlooks.

Think about how David is described in reference to king Abijam, “David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite” (1 Kings 15:5; see also 9:4; 14:8).

Could the story of David be framed differently than that?  Of course it could.  David could be described in much different terms.  He could be viewed in a very dark, negative light.  But this is God’s view of him.

Human nature seems to tend toward the negative.  We see ourselves in a poor light.  We fail to appreciate the value and the worth and highlight the mistakes, weaknesses and failures instead.

In the end we are quite condemning of ourselves.  When “our heart condemns us” we should remember that “God is greater than our heart and he knows everything” (1 John 3:20).  In other words, we should see ourselves as God sees us.

Chances are, God’s story about us is much better than our own.

Through the Bible, April 22

1 Kings 12-14

Summary: It is not as the instigator of the division of the nation for which Jeroboam is best known–that had been prophesied by God (see 1 Kings 11:35) and the tribes were “given” to him.  Instead, it is because of what he did after becoming king of the Northern Kingdom, Israel.  His posterity is that as the man who “caused Israel to sin.”  Twenty-one times Jeroboam’s sin will be remembered as the point at which this nation was steered wrong and from which they never recovered.

Meanwhile, Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, is not allowed to fight against Israel in an attempt at recovery of the tribes lost.  Also, an unnamed prophet foretells a future king who would destroy the altar erected by Jeroboam.  He even names that king, though the event prophesied would not take place for 300 years.

Devotional Thought:

Where You Put It

Some of our possessions are on prominent display in our home.  We have pictures, clocks, decorative pieces, and heirlooms hanging on the walls, setting on table tops, or otherwise out for all who visit to see and enjoy.

Many other of our things are kept in boxes, in cabinets and closets, and stored away in the attic.  “Out of sight, out of mind” is a saying that would apply.  It’s that stuff that becomes the fodder for garage sales.  These goods, by and large, just aren’t as important or valuable or meaningful.

Where we put stuff says a lot about what it means to us.

That idea is certainly involved in the prophet Ahijah’s message for Jeroboam. God said said of Jeroboam, “you have cast me behind your back” (1 Kings 14:9).  This is an all-too-familiar sentiment.

“Because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back” (Ezek. 23:35)

“…and cast your law behind their back” (Neh. 9:26).

“…and you cast my words behind you” (Psa. 50:17).

Out of sight out of mind seems to apply here, too.

Jeroboam’s legacy is as the king who “made Israel to sin.”  There’s little question why.

April Week 4 Bible Reading Introduction

Week 4: The Kingdom Divides and the Ministry of Elijah

April 22-28

            In a response reminiscent of King Saul who tried to kill David because he knew he’d been selected as the next king instead of his own son, Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam because the prophet Ahijah had said he would take most of the kingdom from his son (1 Kings 11:40).

With Solomon’s death Jeroboam returned from exile in Egypt and the groundwork was laid for the prophesied division of the kingdom.

The time of the divided kingdom is quite tumultuous.  It is precisely because of these spiritually precarious times that God begins to use prophets as never before.  It is at this time that the great prophet Elijah comes on the scene and in the midst of the stories of the various kings of these two kingdoms, Elijah plays a quite prominent role.

Through the Bible, April 21

Reading: No Scheduled Reading

Thoughts and Reflections: This is the catch up for the third week of April (15-21).  No readings are planned, but below are some points to ponder based on this week’s readings.

  1. The Bible makes no bones about the extent of Solomon’s wisdom: “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt” (1 Kings 4:29-30). That is remarkable itself, but so is the fact that people were drawn to this man for his wisdom.  He was world-renown.  “And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:34).

People were drawn to, desired, and appreciated wisdom.  Who today is renown for their wisdom?  The fact is, we’re just not that interested in it.

“How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” (Prov. 16:16)

  1. The book of Proverbs is actually a collection of collections of Proverbs. Notice these verses:

“The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel” (Prov. 1:1)

“The proverbs of Solomon” (Prov. 10:1).

“These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.” (Prov. 25:1).

“The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.” (Prov. 30:1)

“The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:” (Prov. 31:1).

  1. We sometimes think we know what God is up to; we’ve got figured out His actions and His deeds. Probably not.  “As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything” (Ecc. 11:5).

Devotional Thought:

I’m Not Alone

A woman still in the throes of grief in the weeks following her husband’s untimely death, commented on the value of a book on grieving she has been reading, “It let me know that I’m not going crazy.”

It is so good to know that we’re not alone, that we’re not isolated in our hurts and pains and sorrows, that the emotional turmoil and even confusion we feel is a shared experience.

This isn’t exclusive to grieving, but for any trouble we may face.  And that’s where one of the great values of the Psalms lies. So many of the Psalms allow the believer to know that their questions, uncertainty, anger, weariness, angst, or whatever, have been felt before and have been felt by others.  It is not a sign of failed faith or spiritual bankruptcy.

The misguided notion that in order for us to come to God and be received by Him we can only approach Him with all our “ducks in a row,” a high level of confidence and assurance, and an already sanitized and well ordered life is wrong.  It’s not emotionally or spiritually healthy.  The Psalms introduce to us people unsure and hurt and angry and searching.

The inscription of Psalm 102 says this well, “A prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord.”

It matters not what I’m feeling or what I’m experiencing, it’s not new to God.  He’s heard it before and He’s seen it before.  It will help me to work through whatever it is, if He now hears it from me.

Through the Bible, April 17

Reading: 1 Kings 9-11

Summary: It’s interesting that God appeared to Solomon a second time following the construction of the temple to encourage the king to faithfulness (1 Kings 9:1-9).  It almost serves as a precursor to his fall under the influence of his many foreign wives.  The description of this turn of events (1 Kings 11:4) should be read alongside Deuteronomy 17:17.  Warnings long preceded Solomon’s very regrettable course of action.

Also, a notable visit paid to Solomon by a foreign dignitary (1 Kings 10) is used by Jesus in his preaching to illustrate the kind of search and inquiry for wisdom and truth that condemns many religious persons then and now (Matt. 12:42).

Devotional Thought:

A Foolish Purveyor of Wisdom

I can remember my parents making the observation during the disciplinary process, “You know better than that!”

They were right.  And I’m not the only one for whom this phenomenon is true.

That has led to another observation: people sometimes know better than they do.  While ignorance is rarely ever a favorable condition, knowledge is not a sufficient antidote for wrong behavior.

Nowhere is this fact any more evident than in the case of Solomon, the wisest man in the world.

Solomon knew so much.  He knew that fearing God is the foundation of all wisdom and man’s purpose for existence (Prov. 1:7; 9:10; Ecc. 12:13).  He knew that a wife (not to mention 700 wives; 1 Kings 11:3) could pose a great challenge (see Prov. 19:13; 21:9, 19; 25:24).  He knew that life is filled with many pitfalls, hazards, and temptations that required much discernment, courage, and faith.

And, on top of all he knew, he also had been explicitly reminded of the rewards and blessings of faithfulness to God and the dire consequences of failing to do so (1 Kings 9:4-9).

Still, incredibly, Solomon forsook God (1 Kings 11:4-8).

Obviously, we may allow influences into our lives that supersede our knowledge, that surpass our devotion to God, and eclipse all warnings and encouragements.

To succeed where the wisest man failed does not require greater knowledge or understanding, it does not mean that we must be better informed, warned or encouraged than he. For all that Solomon knew, he did not do.

Really, it all comes down to doing what we already know; and that’s why Jesus put ultimate emphasis on actually doing His will (Matt. 7:21; Mark 3:35; Luke 6:46).

Through the Bible, April 16

Reading: 1 Kings 4-8

Summary: Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem is thought to have been one of the most magnificent structures of the ancient world.  It is described as “exceedingly magnificent, of fame and glory throughout all lands” (1 Chron. 22:5). Not only that, but his prayer of dedication for the temple (1 Kings 8) is worthy of close thought and study and surely stands as one of the great prayers recorded in all of the Bible.

The attitude of the people of God toward this place of worship to God is reflected in the opening of Psalm 84:

How lovely is your dwelling place,

O LORD of hosts!

My soul longs, yes, faints

for the courts of the LORD;

my heart and flesh sing for joy

to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,

and the swallow a nest for herself,

where she may lay her young,

at your altars, O LORD of hosts,

my King and my God.

Blessed are those who dwell in your house,

ever singing your praise! Selah

(Psalm 84:1-4)

Devotional Thought:

Where Is God’s Name?

One of the interesting customs of our culture is for a woman, when she marries, to take the name of her husband, something significant is being communicated about this relationship by this gesture.  His name now dwells on her.

In biblical culture (and many European cultures to this day) an individual was identified by their father’s name.  For instance, Jesus referred to Peter once as “Simon Barjona” (Matt. 16: 17).  In that instance “Barjona” means “son of Jonah.”  That’s what distinguished this Simon from others.  He bore his father’s name.

Is there something of the same thing at work in the dedication of Solomon’s temple?  He said, “I have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel” (1 Kings 8:20).  Notice how often this thought of a “house for the name” of God is repeated here (see vv. 16, 17, 18, 19).  It is also called “the place where you have promised to set your name” (2 Chron. 6:20).

Surely this ties in to what God said through Moses by way of warning as Israel prepared to first enter the promised land.  His people were to be very careful not to worship as the inhabitants of the land worshipped or in the places they worshipped.  Instead, they were to “seek the place that the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name…the place the Lord your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there” (Deut. 12:5, 11; see also 12:21; 14:23-24; 16:2, 6,11; 26:2).

The people who would come to this place and worship God were ones who belonged to Him.  His name was placed there and was there; He, too, was also present and those who came to worship belonged to Him.  It was a matter of no small importance that God put His name in this place.

This, then, might also help our understanding when in Revelation it is said of the redeemed—referred to as the 144,000—that, among other things, they had “his name [Jesus’] and his Father’s name written on their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1).

We often think about our names being written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, but we ought also to think of God’s name being written on us.

Through the Bible, April 15

Reading: 1 Kings 1-3

Summary: Often forgotten in Solomon’s story is the fact that he almost missed the monarchy. Thanks to intervention by the prophet Nathan and his own mother, the aged David cut short a challenge by one of Solomon’s half-brothers to the throne.

David provides advice and instruction for his son before he dies.  More of this is recorded in 1 Chronicles.  See the supplemental readings for April 29 and April 30 for a discussion of 1 & 2 Chronicles and some readings from these books related to the lives of David and Solomon.

Early on Solomon takes measures to secure his reign and to also secure his legacy.  In a remarkable occurrence, God offers to Solomon anything he wishes, to which the new king responds with his incredible request for wisdom to fulfill his role.  God was very pleased with Solomon’s request.

Devotional Thought:

God Has Always Wanted the Same Thing

God never changes. “For I the Lord do not change” (Mal. 3:6).  Neither does His Son.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

That being true, how humanity relates and responds to God does not change either.  It never has and it never will.

I know, I know, some things have changed.  God has changed His mode of communicating with man (see Heb. 1:1-2).  He has changed the relationship as defined by His covenants.  There was an Old Covenant that served its purpose and was replaced—as God always intended—by a New Covenant (Heb. 8:6-13).

But fundamentally, at the core, what God expects of humanity has not changed at all.

Think about David’s explanation to Solomon of God’s expectations that his sons  were “to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul” (1 Kings 2:4).

Previously Samuel had challenged the people, “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart” (1 Sam. 12:24) and prior to that Joshua charged Israel to “fear the Lord an serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness” (Josh. 24:14).

Are not all of these, in essence, the same as Jesus’ instruction for “true worshipers” to do so “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24)?

So just as the commandments to love God and love your neighbor undergirded both the Law of Moses and the “perfect law of liberty,” so too does our approaching God in sincerity, with all of our heart and spirit, with absolute faithfulness and in truth.

Some things never change.