By J. B. Tidell, A.M., D. D.
Name. The name is taken from the Kings whose deeds they narrate.
Contents. It takes up the history of Israel where Second Samuel left off and gives the account of the death of David, the reign of Solomon, the Divided Kingdom, and the captivity.
Purpose. The political changes of Israel are given in order to show the religious condition. Everywhere there is a conflict between faith and unbelief, between the worship of Jehovah and the worship of Baal. We see wicked kings who introduce false worship and righteous kings who bring about reforms and try to overthrow false worship. Israel yields to evil and is finally cut off, but Judah repents and is restored to perpetuate the kingdom and to be the medium through which Jesus came.
The Kingdom of Solomon. Solomon began in glory, flourished a while and then ended in disgrace. He sacrificed the most sacred principles of the nation in order to form alliances with other nations. He attempted to concentrate all worship on Mount Moriah, probably hoping that in this way he might control all nations. He finally became a tyrant and robbed the people of their liberty.
The Two Kingdoms. This is a sad story of dissension and war and defeat. Israel or the northern kingdom was always jealous of Judah. It was by far the stronger and possessed a much larger and more fertile land. There were nineteen king, from Jeroboam to Hoshea, whose names and the number of years they reigned should be learned together with the amount of scripture included in the story of each. Judah or the southern kingdom was always a little more faithful to the true worship. There were twenty kings, from Rehoboam to Zedekiah, whose lives with the number of years they reigned and the scripture passages describing each, should be tabulated and learned.
The Captivity. It is made clear that the captivity is because of sin. God having spared them for a long time. (1) Israel was taken captivity by the Assyrian Empire, whose capital was Nineveh. This marks the end of the northern tribes. (2) Judah was captured by the Babylonian Empire, but after a period of seventy years, the people were restored to their own land.
Analysis of First Kings.
I. The Reign of Solomon, Chs. 1-11.
II. The Revolt and Sin of The Ten Tribes. Chs. 12-16.
III. The Reign of Ahab and the Career of Elijah, Chs. 17-22.
Analysis of Second Kings.
I. The last days of Elijah, Chs. 1-2.
II. The career of Elisha, Chs. 3-8.
III. The dynasty of Jehu, Chs. 9-14.
IV. The fall of Israel, Chs. 15-17.
V. The Kingdom of Judah, Chs. 18-25.
For Study and Discussion (1) Contrast the character of David with that of Solomon. Give the ideal elements and the defects of each. Also compare them as rulers. (2) Contrast the character of Elijah with that of Elisha. Point out the elements of strength and weakness in each. Compare the great moral and religious truth taught by each as well as the great deeds performed by them. (3) Study this as the cradle of liberty. Note Elijah's resistance of tyrants and Ahab in the vineyard of Naboth. Look for other instances. (4) Consider the place of the prophets. Note their activity in the affairs of government. Glance through these books and make a list of all prophets who are named and note the character of their message and the king or nation to whom each spoke. (5) Make a list of the kings of Israel and learn the story of Jeroboam I, Omri, Ahab, Jehu, Jeroboam II and Hoshea. (6) Make a list of the kings of Judah and learn the principal events and the general character of the reign of Rehoboam, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Uzziah, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Josiah and Zedekiah. (7) The fall of Judah. (8) The failure of human governments, (a) the cause, (b) the manifestation and result.