1 & 2 Kings Part Two Dive
THE PROPHET AND THE KING
An important theme that I want you to notice in the Books of 1 & 2 Kings is the relationship between the Prophet and the King, as prophecy plays a big part in these books. A great way to read them is with a timeline of The Kings and Prophets with you. There are so many different styles to be found, whether in books or on the internet, just like the one below, so find one that visually works for you and save it, so you can refer back to it as you read these books.
This is a great way of seeing which prophets prophesied at the time of the different kings, including Elijah and Elisha, Isaiah and Jeremiah. As you study, you can take note of the prophets’ message, warnings, and where they all fit into the historical timeline.
The relationship between prophet and King is a wild and incredibly frustrating ride, and is one of the central themes of the Old Testament. The kings try and kill the prophets, put them in prison, send other false prophets to contradict them, all to stop the word of God! Check out all the crazy interactions as you venture through 1 & 2 Kings.
Characters In Play
One thing I want you to remember when you study the relationship between the prophets and kings is that both represent God. God speaks through His prophets to guide and instruct His people, and the kings are to rule God’s kingdom, heeding His words and instructions and doing what is right. Unfortunately, as we journey through these books, you’ll find that is not the case. The kings often reject the word of God through His prophets, seek advice from other sources, some declare out and out war on their prophets, like Ahab and Jezebel did, and some kings obey. It is a frustrating ride.
As you read 1 & 2 Kings you have to keep reminding yourself that these are not the enemies of God trying to kill His prophets, this is the people of God; the same people that God saved from Egypt, walked through the wilderness, gave victory over Jericho, sent Judges to save every time they got in trouble. He established them in Jerusalem, placed them in their own Kingdom, was once their King! But, now that they are comfortable, wealthy and established, they reject God, trusting instead in their own human strength, and worship other gods. Ring any bells? How many times has God rescued us, saved us, turned our lives around? Yet when everything is going right, we stop seeking the voice of God, His guidance and His protection. We go to church, pray and read our Bibles only in times of crisis, not as a consistent ongoing relationship with God. Let’s not continue that pattern today.
Now, because the kings are not listening to God for advice, they end up getting their advice from the worst places and, no surprise, the advice is not good! Check out 1 Kings 12:8, ‘Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him’. Rehoboam didn’t get his wisdom from God, he went to his peers to get help to lead God’s people – that’s scary!
The Heartbreak Moment
Again, check out this agonising moment in 1 Kings 12:28-33. It begins with ‘after seeking advice’, and the advice he is given? Bring back the Golden calf to worship instead of God! Where is he getting his advice from?! Certainly not the Lord! Seriously, didn’t they learn the first time in Exodus 32, when the Lord’s anger ‘burn(ed) against Israel’? Not only did they repeat the same mistake, but they built shrines so the people would worship the Calf. Then, the biggest slap in the face for God: in 1 Kings 12:28, the king credits the miracle of Israel’s escape from Egypt to the Calf! 1 Kings 12:28, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt’. The story continues with King Rehoboam setting up altars for them, and this one piece of very bad advice became a sin in Israel. See 1 Kings 12:28, ‘One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin; the people came to worship the one at Bethel and went as far as Dan to worship the other’.
This sin became a pinnacle moment that broke God’s heart, and a moment that God refers to and reflects back on time and time again in these books. Highlight every time it is mentioned as you read the books. For example, in 1 Kings 14:16, ‘And he will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam has committed and has caused Israel to commit’ and again in 1 Kings 15:34, 16:2, 16:7, 16:19, 16:26, 16:31, 21:22, 22:52, 2 Kings 3:3, 9:9, 10:29, 10:31, 13:2, 13:6, 13:11, 14:24, 15:9, 15:24, 15:28, 17:21-22, 23:15. Notice time and time again the words ‘he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat’, which refers back to the sin of the golden calf moment.
What an epic, life changing event, and all because they stopped seeking God’s wisdom through his prophets and turned to their own sources of advice. But wait, it’s about to get worse! Let’s focus in on the story of Ahab and Jezebel, in 1 Kings 16:31-33; ‘He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar of Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him’. Ahab starts taking advice from his Sidonian wife, and it’s not good! Don’t forget, the kings were God’s representatives to lead His people, and now Ahab is worshipping Baal and doing more evil than anyone else!
The Time of the Prophet
But don’t lose heart. Remember, the title of this article is the ‘Prophet and the King’ – wait for the prophet, wait to see what God will say to Ahab and Jezebel about this situation. You don’t have to wait long! In 1 Kings 17:1, ‘Now Elijah the Tishbite!’ Now the battle begins, now God has His say, now the contest for God’s people is played out in this mighty battle on Mount Carmel! Read this epic battle in 1 Kings 18.
The prophets in our stories are not just ones and twos. Notice as you read the later parts of 1 Kings and into 2 Kings, you’ll hear the words 'the company of the prophets' (1 Kings 20:35, 2 Kings 2:3, 2:5, 2:7, 2:15, 4:1, 4:38, 5:22, 6:1, 9:1). In 1 Samuel 29:18-24, Saul was prophesying with the 'school of prophets'. Don’t you love this? God has His people to carry His message throughout these times. Never forget, no matter what happens, God’s voice will be heard! Remember this verse: 1 Kings 19:18, ‘Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel – all whose knees have not bowed to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him’.
We are going to see the incredible relationship between prophets and kings continue as we journey through Chronicles and the Prophetic books, but I just wanted to start you on your journey in Kings. When the prophet speaks, highlight what they say, and then write in your margins whether the king ignores or obeys. Remember, these prophets are not speaking their own words; they are mouthpieces and messengers of God, the true King of Israel.
You are going to love 1 & 2 Kings. These books are lessons in obedience and listening to the voice and direction of God. So remember today, He desperately wants to share in your life journey, so listen first to His guidance and His wisdom, above that of your peers. He is speaking, get ready to obey!