1 Kings and 2 Kings tell the story of the nation of Israel in the days of King Solomon and the kings after him. King Solomon started well as a king. God gave him wisdom to govern the nation. Wisdom was his humble request before God in his prayer, and God was pleased to grant him wisdom, wealth and honour, so much so that he was known throughout the Middle East as the wisest and wealthiest king.
But Solomon had a weakness. He loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he also married Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. When he was old, he forsook the true God of Israel and turned to worship idols of his wives. God was angry with Solomon and He appeared to him and told him that He would tear his kingdom into two and give 10 tribes to his servant, and the one remaining tribe to his son.
So, in 1 Kings 11 and 12, we read of adversaries rising to challenge King Solomon: Hadad, Rezon and Jeroboam. God withheld his judgment in Solomon’s time, but after his death, his son Rehoboam struggled with Jeroboam to be the next king. True to God’s Word, the nation of Israel was divided into two kingdoms: one in the north comprising 10 tribes under King Jeroboam, and the other in the south comprising Judah and Benjamin under King Rehoboam. Neither the Northern Kingdom nor the Southern Kingdom kept the Law of Moses or worshipped God at Jerusalem, and therefore both were taken captive by enemy nations. Israel was taken by Assyria and Judah fell to Babylon, which was just what God promised would happen if they disobeyed His law.
It may seem harsh to us that God punished Israel so severely. After all, Israel was His chosen and highly favoured nation. However, God is holy
and righteous and He must punish sin. God gave Israel and Judah close to 400 years to repent, but time and time again, they failed to honour Him. Instead, they did evil in His sight and worshipped idols. God had to discipline Israel for their grievous sins.
It brings to mind what the writer of Hebrews says about godly discipline. He says that it is for discipline that we, the disciples of Christ, have to endure because God is treating us as sons. I struggle with discipline and I am sure we all do. However, the writer of Hebrews has these words of encouragement: “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore, lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed” (Hebrews 12:11–12).
It is also clear from the story in 1 and 2 Kings that the king, no matter how great he is, is not infallible. We learn this from King Solomon, and 1 Kings also throws up a great number of wicked kings from Israel and Judah. As a result of their wickedness, both kingdoms were defeated by their enemies and people were taken into captivity.
It behooves us to know that though kings are much to be respected and obeyed, they are not perfect in holiness and righteousness. But thank God that He in His sovereignty had a plan of salvation for His people through Jesus, the Davidic Messiah who would become the atoning sacrifice for the sins of His people. Jesus first came to the world as the suffering servant, but he will come again as the triumphant King to establish his kingdom on earth and uphold it with justice and righteousness.
What does this mean for you and me? First, we thank God that we have redemption in Christ Jesus. Though we have sinned against God, He does not hold it against us because Jesus has paid the penalty of our sin with His precious blood. Secondly, we have eternal life through Christ through His resurrection promise. Lastly, we have confidence in Christ that we are enabled to live our lives by faith. We can run the race that is set before us with endurance by looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. By doing so, we will not only start well, but also continue well and finish well, to the praise and glory of God.
– Dn Lee Pak Choon