Study Guide

1 Kings Summary

1 Kings Summary

As the illustrious life of King David draws to a close, only some quick thinking by the prophet Nathan and Solomon's mom Bath-sheba prevents Adonijah from stealing the throne from Solomon, the rightful king. Solomon has Adonijah executed along with the rest of his enemies, and gets to work building an empire. He prays for God to give him the wisdom to rule, and God delivers big time, throwing in riches and long life to boot. Solomon becomes the wisest, richest, most powerful king in the world, and begins construction on a temple to worship the Lord.

We're treated to an exhaustively detailed catalogue of the materials and dimensions of the temple, which becomes the most spectacular monument of all time. God appears to Solomon in a dream a few times and promises to dwell in his temple and bless Solomon's posterity if he's faithful to him. If not, his heirs will lose the kingdom. Solomon dedicates the temple and becomes an international celebrity, wowing the Queen of Sheba and reigning in righteous glory for years.

Righteous, that is, until he accumulates 1,000 wives and concubines, including some who worship other gods. In his old age, Solomon forsakes God, worships his wives's gods, and angers the Lord. Almost as soon as Solomon dies, the kingdom erupts in civil war. Years pass, foreigners chip away at the kingdom's affluence, and each successive king is worse than the last until Ahab inherits the throne of Israel.

Ahab marries Jezebel, a raging idolatress, and the whole kingdom starts worshipping the idol Baal. Out of nowhere, a prophet named Elijah rides into town and starts making trouble for J-hab. He brings a devastating drought across the nation and becomes Israel's most-wanted fugitive. Elijah flees into the wilderness, gets fed by ravens, helps a widow, and finally heads back to Israel for a showdown with Ahab, Jazzy-bell, and 850 idolatrous priests. They have a spectacular prayer-fight on Mount Carmel in front of all the people. Elijah and God beat the pants off 'em, and Elijah kills all of the idolatrous priests. Once again, he's at the top of Jezebel's kill-list.

Elijah runs into the wilderness to die in peace, but angels send him to Mount Horeb. There, Elijah encounters God, who sends him back to finish some business, including calling his successor, Elisha. Meanwhile, Ahab and Jezebel are still making God mad, murdering Naboth for his vineyard and fighting a war the wrong way. Elijah prophesies that they and their house will be destroyed, and the prophecy starts to be fulfilled when Ahab dies in battle and dogs lick up his blood.

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