The Two Books of the Kings
Author and Date:
The two books of Kings were likely prepared by editors in the Deuteronomic tradition during the Babylonian Exile in the sixth century BC from several sources, three of which are named in the text: the Book of the Acts of Solomon, the Book of the Annals of Judah, and the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel.
None of these source documents survive today.
The primary audience for the Deuteronomic writers was the Jews of the Babylonian Exile (sixth century BC), who had been displaced from the Promised Land that God had given them and were forced to live in a distant pagan land.
Like the two Books of Samuel, the two Books of Kings once constituted in a single book but were divided into two books in the Greek Septuagint, a translation of the third or second century BC that made the Scriptures accessible to the Greek-speaking Jews of the Diaspora (Jewish people living outside of Israel/The Promised Land).
In the Septuagint the two books of Samuel were regarded as the first two Books of Kings, and what we now know as the Books of Kings were the third and fourth books of that set.
The Latin Vulgate (fourth century AD) translated by St. Jerome plainly called these four books the Books of the Kings. While some later translations retained this structure, the majority began to call these books 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings.
The two Books of Kings are a historical narrative that begins with the ascendancy to the throne of the united Israel by Solomon, son of David, his building of the Temple, and his reign (cf. 1 Kgs 1:1-11:43).
The narrative continues with a parallel chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah after the kingdom was divided following the death of Solomon (cf. 1 Kgs 12:1-2 Kgs 17:41).
The narrative is completed with the history of the Kings of Judah after the Northern Kingdom was conquered by Assyria and through the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and the exile to Babylon (cf. 2 Kgs 18:1-25:30)
The primary intent of the two Books of Kings is to answer the mournful question on the minds of the exiled Jews in Babylon: Why did this happen?
The answer that the redactors of Kings wished to convey was that the Jews brought these troubles on themselves.
They had the covenant, and God was always faithful.
Nonetheless, the people were not faithful, and God allowed them to suffer the consequences.
Even though the Jews came to know God more intimately, their concupiscence (sinful lust) often led them into sin and idolatry, which were grave violations of the covenant.
Solomon’s sin splintered the united kingdom, and the sins of the northern kings led to the Assyrian conquest.
The remedy for the people was increased faithfulness to the Law and attention to the purity of worship-a worship purged of any hint of paganism and centered in God’s Temple in Jerusalem, his earthly dwelling.
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
1 Kings 1:1 The two Books of Kings describe the history of Israel and Judah following the death of King David. They relate David’s line of succession, which ultimately led to Christ. Their message reinforces the key theme of the earlier writings, i.e., that the blessings to be enjoyed by the Chosen People depended upon their fidelity to God and his Commandments. As before, the Chosen People repeatedly slipped into idolatrous practices, thus rejecting the most basic tenet of the covenant: to worship only the one true God. Yet God, in his infinite mercy and love, continually gave his people opportunities to repent and to be recommitted to the Mosaic Law. (CCC 210-211)
Ch 1:39 In the Old Testament, anointing with oil was used to consecrate a person to God for a specific mission; it was commonly used for the consecration of kings, priests, and prophets. Solomon was to be the second king of the Davidic dynasty, which God had instituted and promised would last forever. All the later kings of Judah were also anointed as the sign of their kingship. Jesus Christ, the Son of David and King of Israel, was anointed by the HOLY SPIRIT at the time of his baptism in the Jordan. (CCC 436, 438)
Ch 1:41-53 Solomon dealt mercifully with his half-brother rival and allowed him to live as long as he did not fall into wicked ways.
Horns of the altar: The altar of sacrifice had protrusions on the corners where the blood of the sacrificed animals was ritually smeared.
2 Chronicles 1-36 As in 1 Chronicles, this book parallels, supplements, and sometimes repeats the narrative contained in earlier books of the Old Testament. It begins with the reign of Solomon, which covers the first nine chapters, and emphasizes the building, dedication, and significance of the Temple. It also links with some of the contemporary prophets whose writings appear later in Scripture. The primary themes of this book are familiar ones: the Kings of Israel are chosen by God; the Temple is a sign of God’s permanent presence among his people; and God blesses his people for their fidelity and punishes them for their sins.
Ch 1:1-18 The reign of Solomon began in a time of peace. Unlike in 1 Kings, 2 Chronicles does not report any controversy involving Adonijah, a son of David; in this version of Solomon’s succession, God granted him not only wisdom but also great riches and honor. Through his divine wisdom God created and sustains the world, and wisdom is one of the greatest gifts God can bestow on a person. Through the light of reason and his grace, we can share in God’s wisdom. (CCC 216, 295, 299, 1954)
Psalm 43 In this psalm, a sequel to Psalm 42, the psalmist expresses deep frustration and exasperation but perseveres in the hope that his time of exile would soon be over. Instead of lamenting the loss of Jerusalem, he looked forward with eager expectation to his dream of returning to the holy city in consideration of God’s unfaltering love. The source of his confidence was God’s never-ending providence on those he loves. Ultimately, his goal went beyond Jerusalem to union with God himself. (Cf. St. John Paul II, General Audience, February 6, 2002)
Your light and your truth: To live in the presence of God is to live in his light and his truth, which involves his loving will for us in all our thoughts and actions.
Hope in God...and my God: The psalmist, living in exile at the time of writing, yearned to return to Jerusalem to worship God in his Temple, which was his dwelling place. He did so with confidence that God would answer him: “I shall again praise him.” (CCC 2466)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
The Royal Heir
The last wave of chaos comes from Adonijah, David’s fourth son.
With the reign of the aging David coming to an end, the prince poises himself to usurp the throne and bypass his father’s likely heir, Solomon.
The narrator is quick to connect Adonijah’s intrigues with Absalom’s revolt.
Like his brother, Adonijah equips himself with “chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him (1 Kgs 1:5), and his plans for usurpation proceed without the notice of his negligent father.
Unlike Absalom, however, he garners the support of Joab and Abiathar the priest, both of whom had supported David in the previous revolt.
With their backing, Adonijah invites David’s other sons (except Solomon) and the royal court to a sacrifice just a little south of David’s capital.
There, he proclaims himself king.
The news of Adonijah’s self-coronation reaches David only through Bathsheba and Nathan the prophet.
In response, the king summons Zadok the priest, Nathan, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada with these instructions: “Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon; and let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet there anoint him king over Israel; then blow the trumpet, and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’” (1 Kgs 1:33-34).
On David’s own royal mount (1 Kgs 1:38), Solomon rides to Gihon and is crowned the new king of Israel with fanfare.
When the news reaches Adonijah, his guests scatter and Adonijah flees to the horns of the altar for sanctuary.
Solomon spares him on the condition that he should prove to be a “worthy man” (1 Kgs 1:52)
(Walking with God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)
Here we are taking a new turn
Originally, Kings and Chronicles were ONE BOOK
They were very LONG books
It would have been IMPRACTICAL to have one MASSIVELY LONG SCROLL with all 4 “books” in one
So they divided them
So 1 Kings indicates a TRANSITION
At the end of 2 Samuel, we got near the end of David’s life
David had to be taken off of the field of battle because he was being targeted as the King
David was also weaker since he was an older king now
And now David is as old as he’s going to get
He’s unable to stay warm
So what did the people do?
They bring in a young maiden, Abishag the Shunammite
She is going to be very important
Abishag is beautiful but DAVID DOES NOT HAVE SEX WITH HER
She is sort of a “Platonic Concubine” if that is such a thing
That is going to be important moving forward
We have another character in 1 Kings Ch 1, Adonijah who is one of David’s sons
He declares himself king
He gathers horsemen, chariots, etc. for himself
He was born after some guy named Absalom 😉
Absalom was handsome and so was Adonijah
Adonijah even gets a bunch of people on his side like Joab and Abiathar the priest and has them all acclaim him as the king
This will be really important moving forward in Kings
We are going to hear story after story of king after king
Each new king will generally be worse than the king before him
NOT EVERY TIME
There are a few decent kings in that group
But they are FEW and FAR between
Solomon himself is the one who will be exalted to be the king
Bathsheba, Solomon’s mom, comes in and does obeisance to David and tells him, “You promised that Solomon, my son, would be king. But Adonijah has made himself the king. Did you not know about this?”
This is 100% THE KEY to what is happening in The Books of Kings
Here is David who was an INCREDIBLE WARRIOR
Here is David who was an INCREDIBLE LEADER IN BATTLE
Here is David who amasses an INSANE FORTUNE IN ORDER TO BUILD THE TEMPLE
Here is David who WRITES INCREDIBLE PSALMS AND SONGS
David is MASSIVELY TALENTED
David is ANOINTED
David is GIFTED BY GOD
David DOES NOT KNOW what is happening IN HIS OWN FAMILY
We saw this in 2 Samuel
This is going to play out in 1 and 2 Kings in a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE WAY
David is a success in almost every area of his life
EXCEPT WHEN IT COMES TO HIS OWN FAMILY
EXCEPT WHEN IT COMES TO BEING A DAD
How do we see this in 1 Kings Ch 1?
He didn’t even KNOW what his kids were doing
Remember earlier David didn’t even call Absalom his SON until after Absalom DIED
Or what about the horrible story of Absalom’s sister Tamar being RAPED by her half brother?
DAVID DID NOTHING
So here, Adonijah is making himself KING and DAVID DOES NOTHING
So Bathsheba and Nathan the Prophet have to PLOT
TO GET DAVID TO DO THE RIGHT THING
TO ANNOUNCE SOLOMON AS THE KING
If David was paying attention to his family, David would have seen this coming
So what happens?
David does the right thing, but he has to be LED to that place
As GIFTED as David is
As ANOINTED as David is
When it comes to being a FATHER, David in many ways is a FAILURE
David does not know what is happening IN HIS OWN HOME
This is going to play out as we move forward with Solomon
In 2 Chronicles Ch 1 we have a big moment for Solomon
God asks Solomon, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Solomon asks for WISDOM and God grants his request
People often wonder how Solomon can be one of the WISEST people at the BEGINNING and is a GREAT FOOL AT THE END???
What we see is that Solomon doesn’t exactly start out incredibly WISE
Solomon gets WISDOM but then he begins to amass TREASURES
Solomon gets WISDOM but then he begins to amass HORSES imported from Egypt
Do you remember that this is in DIRECT DISOBEDIENCE to Deuteronomy 17:16 where it said about the King of Israel:
“He shall not multiply horses for himself nor cause the people to return to Egypt in order to multiply horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’”
Here is Solomon RIGHT AFTER HE IS GIVEN WISDOM BY GOD, misbehaving
You can be WISE and DISOBEDIENT
Wisdom is a great gift
Wisdom is a great virtue
BUT OBEDIENCE IS EVEN MORE POWERFUL
This is going to be the UNDOING OF SOLOMON
Solomon will have GREAT WISDOM and he will even demonstrate it
BUT HE IS NOT OBEDIENT
Solomon can be WISE but NOT GOOD
Think of Satan
Here is Lucifer who is one of the most POWERFUL, most BEAUTIFUL, most INTELLIGENT, of the Angels and what did he do?
LUCIFER TURNED AWAY FROM GOD
It is possible to be WISE but NOT GOOD
It is possible to be BEAUTIFUL but NOT GOOD
It is possible to be STRONG but NOT GOOD
It is possible to be COURAGEOUS but NOT GOOD
And here is Solomon who reveals himself that yes, he is BLESSED by the Lord with WISDOM but he is ALREADY DISOBEDIENT
This will play out for the REST OF HIS LIFE
YES there are MOMENTS of wisdom
That is a GIFT and is SO GOOD
There is a streak of DISOBEDIENCE
There is a streak of Solomon NOT DOING THE RIGHT THING
So we always have to realize that we have ALL BEEN GIVEN GIFTS
We have all been given OPPORTUNITIES TO EXERCISE THE GIFTS GOD HAS GIVEN US
We must recognize that in the midst of all the gifts God has given us, they don’t mean ANYTHING unless we exercise them in accordance with GOD’S WILL
ALL THE POWER WE MIGHT HAVE
ALL THE WEALTH WE MIGHT HAVE
ALL THE STRENGTH WE MIGHT HAVE
ALL THE HEALTH WE MIGHT HAVE
ALL THE BEAUTY WE MIGHT HAVE
ALL THE WISDOM WE MIGHT HAVE
They can ALL lead us to a DARK PLACE if we don’t use them to accomplish GOD’S WILL
This is one of the KEYS TO SCRIPTURE
God desires OBEDIENCE, not SACRIFICE
In all things we have been GIFTED
We have been BLESSED BY THE LORD
And now we need to ask God how He wants us to use these BLESSINGS to serve HIM and to help the PEOPLE AROUND US
Without God’s Grace, we can’t do it
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. We do give you glory and honor. There is no reason when you are with us, when you are near us, for our souls to be cast down. Yes, Lord God, we experience grief. We experience suffering. We experience loss in this life and in this world. And so our hearts can be broken. But, in all things we can still have joy. We can still have this abiding and pervasive sense of well-being because we know who you are. We know your character. We know your heart. We know your steadfast love for us. Because of that, Lord God, we can have that abiding and that pervasive sense of well-being. We can have joy in all circumstances. That even when our hearts are broken, even when our souls are tormented, even when our bodies are wracked with pain and grief, that we do not have to be cast down because you are with us. And you are for us. And if you are for us, who can be against us? We give you praise, Lord God. So thank you. Thank you. Help us, bolster us up, and strengthen us, Lord God. Especially when the grief gets too big, when the suffering gets to be too much, when this day is overwhelming, strengthen us. Help us take one step forward. Help us take the next good step. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”