The Book of 1 Kings
Rector’s weekly letter to the congregation for Sunday, May 12, 2019
The Book of 1 Kings
The two books of Kings were once one book in the Hebrew Bible. First Kings has 22 chapters and 816 verses. It continues the story of the nation of Israel from where 2 Samuel left off. It starts by talking about King David in his advanced age. His son Adonijah, who was the oldest son, took matters in his own hands and tried to take advantage of his father’s physical weakness because of age to declare himself king. It didn’t work. David got wind of it and quickly organized for Solomon’s coronation as the rightful king. David gave emotional instructions to Solomon about how he should live life in the fear of the Lord, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments and rules. David did not remain alive for long after Solomon became king.
Solomon worshipped God, but unfortunately, he also made offerings to other gods. When God asked him to ask God for anything he wanted, Solomon asked for wisdom. He said without wisdom he could not rule God’s great people. God was impressed by Solomon’s not asking for riches or victory over his enemies and granted him what he asked for as well what he did not ask for.
Solomon built a magnificent temple for the worship of God. It took seven years to complete the entire work. Then the furnishings of the temple were made to precise detail and placed in the temple. Solomon also built himself a magnificent palace. To finance the building projects, Solomon taxed the people highly. When all was ready, the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the temple in a grand procession. Solomon prayed a moving prayer at the dedication of the temple asking God to look with mercy on his people.
Solomon’s undoing was the many wives he married from nations around Israel. He figured that if he married the daughters of the kings around him, those kings would not wage war against him. But each wife he married brought with her the gods of her nation and perhaps for the sake of good neighborliness with his wives, Solomon succumbed to honoring those gods. The marrying of foreign wives was a direct contravention of God’s instructions. God knew that if Israel intermarried with other nations at such an early stage of their existence, they would be tempted to worship their gods. And it happened.
Solomon was succeeded by his son Rehoboam who in a show of immaturity vowed to tax the people even higher than his father had done. This was against the advice of senior statesmen who had worked with his father. Instead, he sought the opinion of young people of his age who fired him up to load it hard over the people. A man called Jeroboam led an uprising against Rehoboam and this brought about the division of the kingdom into two, twelve tribes in the north, which became the Northern Kingdom and retained the name Israel, and two tribes in the south, Judah and Benjamin, which became the Southern Kingdom and took the name, Judah.
The rest of the book narrates the reigns of various kings as one succeeded another in both Israel and Judah. Israel never had a dynasty of continuous succession all through, but Judah had the house of David rule continuously until it was destroyed by the Babylonians as we shall see in 2 Kings. The story of Elijah and the 400 prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:1-46 is a moving episode. Elijah dramatized the occasion and caused great effect for God.
First Kings demonstrates that in order for life to run properly for us, it must be built upon a solid spiritual foundation and commitment, namely, high regard for the Lord’s direction, love, and concern for people, checking every step of the way against God’s standard, and more. Also, we learn that in every age those who follow God’s standards as commanded by Him will be accused of being haters and troublemakers by the world and by those who have deviated off course. Elijah was accused of being the troublemaker of Israel by King Ahab who himself had abandoned the way of the Lord and was really the reason for the calamities that faced the nation. Spiritual infidelity and relying upon expediency are a recipe for disaster for individuals and nations alike. Enjoy 1 Kings.
Protestant Christian Evidences
by Bernard Ramm 1953: 33–35
We assert as our fundamental apologetic thesis the following: There is an infinite, all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving God who has revealed Himself by means natural and supernatural in creation, in the nature of man, in the history of Israel and the Church, in the pages of Holy Scripture, in the incarnation of God in Christ, and in the heart of the believer by the gospel. The hypothesis is directly supplied from the supreme norm of Christian knowledge and theology, the Holy Bible, but it is helped and guided by philosophical considerations. Our personal experience of the gospel is the psychological motivation to seek such hypothesis; it is the Bible which supplies us with it, and it is Christian apologetics that formulates it, explains it, and defends it. We accept this thesis on the following grounds:
- The Christian religion supplies our hearts with an adequate answer to the basic needs of the human heart, e.g., the thirst for the supreme good is found in God Himself; the quest for peace of heart due to irritations of a guilty conscience is found in the forgiveness and justification of God made possible by the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; and the hope for a future life is answered in the victory of Christ over death. We are Christians because our hearts find the fullest satisfaction in the Christian religion. This is the thesis defended in E.J. Carnell’s A Philosophy of the Christian Religion.
- The Christian Religion has a fundamental set of theological propositions which form an interrelated noncontradictory system of religious truth. Certainly, the acceptance of any system of belief (scientific, philosophic, religious) demands that that system be free from contradiction. We find in the Christian system a set of theological affirmations which do form a genuine noncontradictory system. This does not mean we know and understand all. We always must caution ourselves about first our own infirmity and ignorance, and then the greatness and incomprehensibility of God. But this does not relieve us of the necessity of seeing if our propositions agree, nor from, as in neo-orthodoxy, literary glorifying in the paradoxical.
- The Christian religion is tangent with fact. This is the domain of Biblical introduction, Biblical archaeology, Bible and science, and Biblical geography. This is part of the great strength of the Christian religion, namely, its great conformity to so many kinds of facts.
- The Christian religion is supernaturally verified by the witness of God through the miraculous, e.g., prophecy, miracles, and the resurrection of Chris, [and the existence of the nation of Israel].
- The Christian religion renders the universe metaphysically intelligible. Something is rendered scientifically intelligible when the phenomenon to be explained is shown its necessary place in a web of circumstances or causal chain. Metaphysical intelligibility is this same process on a much wider scale, i.e., the hypothesis espoused compasses a vast stretch of data and systemizes it, correlates it, and renders it meaningful. It is for this reason that broad scientific laws and metaphysical assumptions are very similar in both form and method of verification. “The rational task of the apologist for Christianity is just the natural task of the advocate and exponent of any great generalization of science,” writes Sweet, “to vindicate it, on the basis of evidence, as the most reasonable hypothesis to explain undoubtable facts…Christian apologetics is the explication of the fact that the Christian religion explains the world, man, and human history more comprehensively and more satisfactorily than any other explanation which can be devised.” Of all the philosophies the human mind has entertained, none can compare with the Christian religion for making best sense out of the universe (its origin and destiny); out of man (his origin, nature, and purpose); and out of human history.