The books we know as 1 and 2 Kings were one book in early manuscripts. In these notes, the two books are treated as one for the sake of unity.

Authorship and Audience

According to Jewish tradition, Jeremiah wrote the books we know as 1 and 2 Kings.1 This is unlikely, however, as the event described in 2 Kings 25:27–30 occurred in Babylon and Jeremiah, if he were still alive, would have been in Egypt (see Jeremiah 43:1–7).2 Thus, the author of this book is unknown. Whoever he or she was, the author was writing to a Jewish audience as shown by the emphasis on why Israel and Judah went into exile (see 2 Kings 17:7-23).

Date and Historical Context

The last event in 2 Kings takes place in 561 BC and there is no mention of a return from exile (which would have been in 538 BC); therefore, the book was likely written/compiled while Israel and Judah were in exile.

Literary Context

The book of 1 Kings picks up where 2 Samuel leaves off. David is the king of Israel, but is a shadow of his former self. 1 and 2 Kings cover the history between David's reign (ca. 971 BC) and the exile of the southern kingdom (ca. 561 BC). The temple, which Solomon builds in 1 Kings 5 - 7, plays a critical role in future books (e.g. Ezekiel and Matthew) as the Messiah will one day build a permanent temple (see 2 Samuel 7:13). The history described in Kings forms the background for most of the prophets and explains how and why Israel went into exile. Chronicles (the books we know as 1 and 2 Chronicles) will reiterate the history of Israel covered in Samuel and Kings from a different perspective.


I. Solomon [1:1 - 11:43]

A. Rise [1:1 - 10:29]

  1. Reign Passed to Solomon [1:1 - 2:12]

  2. Solomon Consolidates Power [2:13-46]

  3. Solomon's Faithfulness and Wisdom [3:1 - 4:34]

  4. Building the Temple (and Solomon's Palaces) [5:1 - 7:51]

  5. Dedication of the Temple [8]

  6. God's Caution [9:1-9]

  7. Israel's Expansion and Prosperity [9:10 - 10:25]

B. Fall [10:26 - 11:43]

  1. Solomon's Transgression of the Law of the Kings3 and Idolatry [10:26 - 11:8]

  2. Consequences of Solomon's Apostasy [11:9-11:43]

II. Divided Monarchy [12:1 - 2 Kings 25:30]

A. Kingdom Split Between Rehoboam and Jeroboam [12:1-24]

B. Kings of Israel and Judah - Part A [12:25 - 2 Kings 1:18]

C. Elisha Succeeds Elijah [2]

D. Elisha's Work [3:1 - 8:15]

E. Kings of Israel and Judah - Part B [8:16 - 16:20]

F. Israel Exiled [17]

G. Kings of Judah [18:1 - 24:20]

H. Judah Exiled [25]

Theological Themes

  • God is the KING. In the book of Kings, God is presented as the true KING. He is the one who truly rules over the world and He is the one who has ultimate control. God is the KING for at least three reasons:
    • Because God is Sovereign. God's rule transcends and is independent of all earthly and spiritual authorities. He has complete right and ability to exercise His will. In 1 and 2 Kings, God's sovereignty is displayed when God uses foreign nations like Assyria and Babylon to accomplish His will. He is not limited by man's sinfulness as demonstrated by the numerous prophecies which were fulfilled throughout the book (1 Kings: 2:27, 12:15, 12:21-24, 13:2-6, 15:28-30, 16:12, 16:34; 2 Kings: 1:17, 7:1-2 and 7:16-20, 9:26, 9:36-37, 10:10, 17:23, 24:2-3). All of these fulfillments show God's control over the kings of Israel, Judah, and whole world (2 Kings 5:1-14 and 8:7-15).
    • Because God is Powerful. Not only is God's will unhindered by anyone, but He also has amazing power. He can bring stability (1 Kings 13:11-32), raise the dead (1 Kings 17:17-24), and defend His people from the greatest nation on earth (2 Kings 18 - 19).
    • Because God is Faithful. God is shown to be the KING because He is faithful. When God says something, He has the right and ability to carry it out and He also has the commitment to carry it out. In the book of Kings, God's faithfulness is a double-edged sword. On one hand, God is faithful to punish His people because of their rebellion (2 Kings 17:6-23). At the same time, God is also faithful to protect the Davidic line which keeps the promise of the Messiah alive (2 Samuel 7 and 2 Kings 25:27-30).
  • God's Ability to Bring about His Messiah. In 2 Samuel 7, David received a promise that one of his descendants would rule over Israel forever. Solomon is a type fulfillment4 of this promise; he is a foretaste and demonstration that God can and will bring about the promises He made to David. Solomon was only the third king over Israel and the second in the Davidic line, yet his kingdom expands dramatically (even supernaturally) to the largest land area Israel has ever possessed (1 Kings 4:21 which echoes Genesis 15:18). He is not recorded going into battle, but expands his kingdom through diplomacy. The decadent excess recorded in the text (e.g. 1 Kings 4:20-28 and chapter 10) demonstrates that God is ultimately in control of the kingdom and will be able to bring about His Messiah when He wills. As this book was likely written while Israel and Judah were in exile, it is a reminder that God can bring about His Messiah on His time.
  • The Role of the Temple. The Temple built by Solomon would have been spectacular to see! Gold covered the doors and floors (6:30-35) and the inside featured ornately carved cedar (6:18). Gourds, flowers, palm trees, cherubim, and pomegranates decorated the walls, doors, columns, and altar (6:18, 6:29, 6:35, 7:18, and 7:24). All of these icons point back to the Garden of Eden, where the relationship between God and man was the closest. The temple is a reminder that Eden is not entirely lost and that there is still hope for the restoration of the relationship between God and man.


  • Solomon is an extremely enigmatic character for a couple reasons. First, he is very committed to what ever he is doing. When he is building the temple to worship God, he spares no expense; when he is sinning against God, he does it magnificently. He is not a person to do something half-heartedly. Second, we don't get to know Solomon personally like we got to know David or Saul. The text does not provide us with any of Solomon's thoughts and the reader doesn't hear Solomon speak outside of a few, public interactions. While we learn a lot from Solomon's outward actions, "the inner man is missing, the narrative is silent."5
  • Early in Solomon's life, there are some questionable behaviours which foreshadow his later unfaithfulness. The collection of chariots and horses (1 Kings 4:26 - a violation of the law of the kings3), the fact that Solomon spent more time on his own house than the temple (compare 1 Kings 6:38 with 7:1), and Solomon's marriage with Pharaoh's daughter (1 Kings 3:1) are all signs that Solomon may not be as faithful to God as he may appeared in early life.
  • The author repeats the word "know" three times in the first chapter; always in reference to David's lack of knowledge (1 Kings 1:4, 1:11, 1:18). The author is painting David as an impotent King who can't keep himself warm and doesn't know very much (in more ways than one).
  • There is tragic irony in the fact that Solomon asked for a "hearing" or "listening" heart (1 Kings 3:9), God warns him of the danger of apostasy (9:6-9), but Solomon doesn't listen (or does not care enough) and ends up being drawn away from the true God.
  • The role of prophets becomes more prominent throughout 1 and 2 Kings.
  • According to Deuteronomy 4:5-8, if Israel practices the law, they will show such wisdom that the nations around them will recognize the wisdom and give God glory. This is exactly what happens during Solomon's reign; especially with the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:1-13).
  • Notice how God's faithfulness is double-edged sword in 1 and 2 Kings and throughout the Old Testament. God is faithful. If Israel are also faithful, God's faithfulness ensures blessings and prosperity. But if Israel are unfaithful, God's faithfulness guarantees curses and, eventually, exile. What is truly amazing is the fact that God's faithfulness endures even through Israel's unfaithfulness. The fact that Israel disobeyed God did not stop God's plans or promises. God is so powerful and faithful that He even uses sinful, rebellious man to accomplish His purposes.
  • There are similarities between Solomon's constructions and other temples and palaces in the Ancient Near East. Among them are the method of construction and the length of time spent on construction projects.6


1. "Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra," Babylonian Talmud: Baba Bathra 14, December 25, 2002, accessed December 26, 2017,

2. "First Kings," Grace to You, February 22, 2010, accessed December 26, 2017,

3. Deuteronomy 17:14-20 describes what is known as the "Law of the Kings". It prohibits kings from multiplying horses, wives, and gold (all means by which a king would consolidate and solidify his power). It also stipulates that the kings must write a copy of the law which they would read every day to be able to judge with justice. The primary purpose of this law is to make sure that kings were subject to God and His laws and did not become arrogant, trusting in their own power and strength to rule.

4. Solomon is a type (we could even say a type fulfillment) of the Messiah. The idea of a type fulfillment is one that is common in Hebrew poetry. When a prophet made a prophecy about the future, he would often provide a small, contemporary sign as proof that the distant prophecy would come true. For example, in 1 Kings 13:1-10 a prophet promises that "the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and human bones shall be burned on you" (with reference to the an alter in Israel). This is a prophecy that later comes true (2 Kings 23:15-16), but that same day the prophet provided a sign by splitting the altar (1 Kings 13:3,5). The fact that the altar split is not a fulfillment of the prophecy; it is simply a sign (or a 'type') of the future fulfillment. A type fulfillment draws attention to the fact that God is able to do what He promises.

As this relates to Solomon, the promise of the Messiah was given in 2 Samuel 7. In David's words, this promise was "concerning the distant future" (2 Samuel 7:19). To demonstrate that God is actually able to bring about the Messiah, God raises up Solomon as a 'type' of the Messiah. Notice the similarities between the promises made about the Messiah and Solomon's reign. Both kings build a temple, both kings have a peaceful reign, and both kings bring about tremendous prosperity. Solomon isn't the Messiah, but he is a reminder and a sign that God can and will bring about the Messiah.

One final note as it relates to the theme of 1 and 2 Kings: once we understand that Solomon is a type of the Messiah, we can better understand why the supernatural expansion of Solomon's kingdom is important. While Solomon was undoubtedly wise, God had to be at work in and through him to bring about such prosperity. This makes 1 and 2 Kings both a reminder and a promise that the Messiah will come and will not fail where Solomon failed.

5. André Lemaire, Baruch Halpern, and Matthew J. Adams, Books of Kings: sources, composition, historiography, and reception (Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2017), 101.

6. L. W. Yaggy and T. L., Museum of antiquity: a description of ancient life: the employments, amusements, customs and habits, the cities, palaces, monuments and tombs, the literature and fine arts of 3,000 years ago (Chicago, IL: Western Publishing House, 1880), 440-442.

Future Research

  • Get back to issue surrounding the 'to this day' statements and the date of this book. This is treated in summary here: The basic question is: If this book was written while Israel was exiled, why does the text repeatedly say "and so it is to this day" (even when things would not have been this way when the author/compiler was writing/compiling)?
  • Investigate interesting passage in 1 Kings 3:16-28
  • What is going on in 1 Kings 9:10-14? - How does this fit into the narrative flow?
  • Does Solomon think he is the seed promised to David in the Davidic covenant (consider 1 Kings 8:14-21)?
  • Peruse , , , and

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