THE FIRST BOOK OF THE KINGS.
The Books of the Kings, like those of Samuel, formed but one account in the original Hebrew collection, the division into two parts being made at the time when the Old Testament was translated into Greek. As their name indicates, the books contain a history of the people of God under the kings of the Jews, beginning with Solomon and ending with the Babylonian exile, But these books do not give us a history of kings such as mere human accounts furnish. “Like all historical books of the Bible, they are not intended merely as a source of historical information, but were written chiefly for religious purposes.” The writer points out again and again how God fulfilled His promise to David, His servant, namely, that He would always keep a man from his house and lineage on the royal throne. Again, he invariably tells us, in a practically stereotyped formula, whether the reign of a king was good or evil “in the sight of the Lord.” Moreover, he describes in great detail the labors of the prophets of the Lord, particularly the ministry of the great prophets Elijah and Elisha. And, finally, the fact that the author wrote from a religious standpoint appears also from the fact that he shows the division of the kingdom, the overthrow of Israel, the Northern Kingdom of the ten tribes, and the Babylonian captivity of Judah, the Southern Kingdom of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, to have been the inevitable consequence and punishment of the idolatry and other sins of the people; and thus his history shows the ruin to which sin invariably leads if not repented of, but persisted in.
The style, language, and the plan of the books preclude the idea of a compilation or of divided authorship. It is true that the author made use of several compends of history, such as the Book of the Acts of Solomon, 1 Kings 11, 41, the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel, 1 Kings 14, 19, and elsewhere, and the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah, 1 Kings 14, 29, and elsewhere, but it was under the guidance of the Spirit of God that he chose from these prophetic documents such information as he needed for his purpose. The unknown author seems to have lived among the captive Jews in Babylon, and he wrote his book about 560 B.C.
The contents of the Books of Kings may be summarized as follows: 1. The reign of Solomon, 1 Kings 1-11; 2. the history of the divided kingdom until the fall of the Northern Kingdom, 1 Kings 12 to 2 Kings 17; 3. the Kingdom of Judah till the Babylonian captivity, 2 Kings 18-25. 1)