1st Book Of The Kings
Pr Edi Giudetti
In this sermon my desire is to summarise the 1st book of the Kings for you but also to provide a word that describes to me an overriding theme throughout its pages. That word is Opportunity.
It’s difficult not to notice the incredible opportunities that the Lord gave to select individuals as reward for their faithfulness, Solomon, Jeroboam, Rehoboam in particular, even Elijah gave the people opportunity to follow the Lord when he judged the 400 prophets of Baal. And sadly their neglect of those opportunities and the resulting effect.
What we see in 1 Kings is philosophically called “Antithesis”. Simply put as the first law of Logic if something is true its opposite cannot be true. Its either raining or it is not raining, if I say yes to something I cannot have said no to it, “A” cannot be both “A” and not “A”.
If God promised good for good behaviour, the bad behaviour will provide its opposite. And that is exactly what we see in 1 Kings; God is providing opportunity to three Kings for their faithfulness, but their unfaithfulness reap the opposite end.
The first book of the Kings contains within it 22 chapters.The first 11 chapters has as their primary concern Solomon, the son of David to whom pertained many of the promises of God, some of which were conditional.
The last eleven chapters sees for us a division of the nation due to the neglect of king Solomon in holding fast to the Lord and keeping all that pertained to him of God. Those things which he gained of God he later turned away and sought after the gods of the nations about him for the many wives that turned him.
The 12th Chapter of the book of Kings is when we begin to see a division of the nation, where we begin to see the references that distinguish the separated nation as Judah and Israel.
Judah is that line that was given to David and his home Jerusalem and that City which belongs to the Lord.
Israel is that northern part of the nation that pertained to what would become known as the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel. Still lost to this day.
There would be 19 kings in total for Judah and 19 kings in total for Israel during this divided reign. The nineteen Kings of Judah spanned almost 400 years (length of reign often determined by faithfulness) Of the Nineteen kings of Judah, half followed the Lord and were considered good. The nineteen kings of Israel spanned only about 210 years. Of the nineteen kings of Israel, all where wicked.
1 Kings deals with the division of the nation and how it came about.
1 Kings introduces to us the Prophet Elijah in chapter 17 and Elisha in Chapter 19. Elijah was he who worked as the main prophet of the Lord in 1 Kings, Elisha would take this role in 2 Kings.
The main events were;
- The transfer of the Kingdom to Solomon
- The building of the Temple
- The manifest wisdom of Solomon
- The division of the Kingdom, never to be reunited.
- The judgement of the 400 prophets of Baal in Mt Carmel
- The Evil of Jezebel
- The Judgement of King Ahab of Israel
Opportunity From the Lord Provided To Prosper
Solomon was the son of David, the child of Bathsheba. It was she whom David had taken to wife after the matter with Uriah the Hittite in which David sinned so greatly; It was she who would, in turn, be blessed to have as a son that will rule and govern the nation of Israel; and it would be her line in which the messiah the prince would come, our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.
And now in Chapter 2 we have the beginning of David’s charge to Solomon his son, a charge in which, if Solomon obeyed, he would have been blessed all his days and even forever. In this we find an Opportunity from the Lord provided to Prosper.
2 Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, 2 I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; 3 And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself: 4 That the Lord may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.
Friends this is not unusual, nor is this opportunity to proper only for the sake of Solomon; certain that the extent and temporal nature of the prosperity is given to Solomon, but the promise of blessing for faithfulness extends to all people for all time. It was confirmed by Moses to the people of Israel, promised to Saul the first King of a united Israel, to David the man after Gods own heart and now to Solomon to the most extreme extent never to be repeated on Earth.
God has always and will always provide opportunity for man to prosper if they would; .…shew thyself a man; 3 And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:
In Chapter 3:3 Scripture says
3 And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father: Here we first see the desire of Solomon, he “Loved the Lord” and we also see his faithfulness in respecting the honour of his father for he “walked in the statutes (The commandments) of David his father. And the verse finishes, “only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.”
But let us read on from verse 3:5
5 In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. 6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 7 And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. 8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. 9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
10 And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. 11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; 12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. 13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. 14 And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
So turned was the heart of Solomon toward the Lord and for his people he realised that there was but one thing he needed, a lack that he needed filled to do the work the Lord had set him to undertake; it was simply WISDOM, “an understanding heart to judge” to “Discern between good and bad”.
Certain that God gave him all these things, and the first eleven chapters of 1st Kings speaks of all that had been given and done for Solomon. Wealth he had more than any that had come before or gone after,
In 1 Kings 10:14 says 14 Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold.
That’s 666 x 30kg = 20,000 kg of Gold in one year, 20 tons.
Perspective: Current price of Gold at $1500 = $30 Billion dollars of Gold alone.
So together with Wisdom, which was given the king as he requested, Physical prosperity was also given to him as the Lord was pleased and purposed to do.
In this please allow me to expound one short point.
- Wisdom is granted to all who request it!
Proverbs teaches us the value of wisdom, saying
Get wisdom, get understanding:
Forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.
6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee:
Love her, and she shall keep thee.
7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom:
And with all thy getting get understanding. (Prov 4:5-7)
James 1:5 tells us “ 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
Wisdom is one of the five “Yes petitions of God” (Faith, Forgiveness, Peace, and Salvation the other four)
It is that wonderful blessing gained that helps greatly in all manner of life and in all manner of things. Discernment and understanding is indeed the principal thing, for every day we make decisions, and without wisdom those decisions become foolish.
And without a sincere regard for the Lord to help direct that wisdom, then the wisdom itself becomes foolishness. (Ecclesiastes)
WISDOM IS NOT IQ!
WISDOM IS NOT FOUND IN THE WORLD
WISDOM IS NOT FOUND IN YOU!
Seek after wisdom, ask God and you will gain both wisdom and all else he may bless you with. But that Wisdom is rooted and found in our love and devotion to the Lord, particularly through his word. We will speak more to this when we come to the Wisdom portions in the five books at the heart of the Old Testament.
Solomon sought after wisdom, in this he demonstrated humility, he desired that which he knew he needed and which he understood he lacked.
If there is one prayer I would desire that you sought the Lord for, it is wisdom!
Opportunity From the Lord Provided To Honour
Honour also was given to him. His reputation was known throughout the world, the Queen of the south came to meet with him for all that she had heard in reputation, and yet only part was told her.
10 And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions. 2 And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. 3 And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not. 4 And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built, 5 And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her. 6 And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. 7 Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. 8 Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. 9 Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice. (1 Kings 10:1-9)
Historically this Queen is believed to be that ruler of Ethiopia, she was known also as the queen of the south in Mathew and Luke.
Notice how it is the wisdom of Solomon and not the wealth of Solomon that drew her to meet him.
- And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions.
Notice also how the Wisdom of Solomon had an outworking effect, even on those who served him. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. The wisdom of Solomon gave him the ability to do judgment and justice (v9).
Friends when Judgement and Justice are properly executed in a land, then happy are the people. But when injustice reigns through wicked rulers, then miserable are the people.
Our actions and our surroundings betray our state.
When Solomon sought the Lord, not only did he gain wisdom but through his wisdom he gained a happy and prosperous people and had such an effect in reputation to those around him. in this he gained honour by his people as God said he would.
When husbands and wives, fathers and mothers seek the Lord and desire to gain wisdom, the result can only be a blessed and happy family.
Fathers and Mothers can be held in honour by their children and by those who witness the happiness of those children.
Much misery is found today and fewer and fewer men and women are seeking after the Lord and desiring his wisdom.
It is no coincidence that the confusion and misery of much of the western world lines up with a time when the Lord is rejected.
When the world says unto God “depart from us for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways” (Job 21:14) we can be sure that the world will suffer through many trials as a result.
Know then, if you turn from the Lord he will turn from you his prosperous hand, if you turn to the Lord he will turn to you his hand of blessing.
A note of caution here. Blessing is not that manifest by the things that we have, remember Solomon had no lack of anything, yet his peace and joy was taken away from him when he turned from the Lord as we will see. Blessing is found in you by the peace and joy you have of God, it is manifest to the world by the hope and happiness you display.
Paul was fully content and in need of nothing even when he found himself in a Roman dungeon. Blessing is manifest completely in you Hope, Peace and Joy in the Lord.
Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.
Opportunity From the Lord neglected To Vanity
Chapter 11 is the chapter is division and apostasy. It gives the account and the consequence of Solomon’s turning away from the Lord.
4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.
9 And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, 10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the Lord commanded.
11 Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.
The opportunity the Lord had provided to Solomon was neglected to vanity, Solomon began to follow gods that are no gods but the work of men’s hands. Solomon began to trust in things which do not profit, things which turn the hearts of men away from that which does profit and that is the Lord.
Can you imagine the heart of the Lord at this time? He is the source of Solomon’s wealth and wisdom, he blesses him abundantly in all that he has and yet Solomon turns away from the God that is there to worship gods that are not there! So the Lord grants to him his desire and turns his hand from him. Solomon’s wisdom is turned to foolishness, and his purpose turned to Vanity.
To make a well for water we need to first tap into the source of water, then we can draw directly from it. But if we are searching for water, there is no point digging a well for it where there is no source.
And this is what we find Solomon doing and this is what we find all the world who neglect the opportunity the Lord gives and turn instead to vanity. They seek after that which is not there and ignore the God who is there.
Turn to Ecclesiastes 1:12
12 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. 14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. 15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. 16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. 17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. 18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
Ecclesiastes is a book given to us that shows the vain search of a man with all the means available to him to find meaning in life, he tries it all and concludes that all is Vanity. At the end of the book he recognizes that it is only found in God, but for the nation of Israel, it is too late.
The turning of Solomon to vanity is a lesson to each one of us.
Though we may know the Lord,
though his spirit may dwell within us and;
though he is the object of our Church worship,
take great care to hold to that which you have been instructed lest you turn to vanity.
Turn to Colossians 2:1-7
2 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; 2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; 3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. 5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. 6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: 7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Your comfort, your assurance and your understanding comes directly from the Lord Jesus Christ In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
The example of Solomon teaches us that it is possible to turn to vanity when we turn from the Lord, but it also teaches us that the consequence of it are not limited to ourselves but to all people we influence.
There is no substitute for humble prayer before the Lord, devotional reading of his word (believing he has something to say to you), and being faithful both in Church and in the Gospel.
- If its comfort you seek, Jesus gave his life for your eternal rest.
- If its love you seek, Jesus demonstrated his love for you by his death.
- If its purpose you seek, Jesus is our example to follow.
- If its wisdom you seek, Jesus is the source of it and his Word is his well, draw from it daily.
Opportunity From the Lord neglected To Division
29 And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and they two were alone in the field: 30 And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces: 31 And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee: 32 (But he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:) 33 Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father.
34 Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant’s sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes: 35 But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes. 36 And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there. 37 And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel. 38 And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee.
Jeroboam, is here presented with an opportunity of God and you will notice it is yet another conditional opportunity; And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight,
The simple conjunction “If” represents the nature of the opportunity as ‘conditional’, it’s the same one that was given King Solomon and it is now given to Jeroboam.
Jeroboam however decides that he will not be the king named for his righteousness and have his name compared to all the ‘righteous’ kings that come thereafter, that privilege seems to be reserved for David. Jeroboam falls so far out of favour with the Lord that his name is named in comparison with every wicked king, as David is named in comparison to every righteous king.
EG And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
This is the extent of reputation Jeroboam gained. Rehoboam the son of Solomon holds to the council of his friends rather than the older and wiser men of Solomons court, and the nation is divided in chapter 12.
To the North is Israel consisting of ten tribes, to the south is Judah and Benjamin.
Take note then, that from chapter 12 the Kings that stem from Israel are the kings of the Northern Kingdom, all of them wicked as not one of them seeks after the God of their fathers during the next two centuries and today they are no more identified as a people.
To the south is Judah, it lasts for 400 more years before it is taken into the Babylonian Captivity, but because God promised David an everlasting Kingdom he returns them to the land.
Friends what we have demonstrated in the book of 1 Kings is the objective reality of God and his good purpose. When we follow and trust him, he blesses abundantly. When we turn from him, we are left to our own devices in the natural turning of sin.
What is the most blessed joy in the Lord that we learn as we read, is that when we turn to him in sorrow, he forgives and blesses. Next week we will see the extent of Gods hand demonstrating his love and devotion as a Father to his children.
Take the opportunities God gives you, be faithful in ALL he has commanded, TRUST HIM. And watch If he will not open you the windows of heaven,
And pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it (Mal 3:10)