This Week’s Readings
Monday, June 4: 1 Kings 1-4
Tuesday, June 5: 1 Kings 5-8
Wednesday, June 6: 1 Kings 9-12
Thursday, June 7: 1 Kings 13-17
Friday, June 8: 1 Kings 18-22
The overall year’s plan is here.
1 Kings 9: Eternal Security
I have to say something about eternal security here, the teaching that once you accept Jesus, you have a free entrance to heaven no matter what you do in the future. The first nine verses of this chapter begin by reiterating God’s promises to David, but God then makes it clear that those promises do not apply if Solomon or his sons turn away from following God.
There is nothing Scriptural about reaping God’s promises unconditionally. Colossians 1:21b-23a is a great example:
Yet now he has reconciled [you] in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy, blameless, and unreproveable in his sight, if you continue in the faith grounded and settled. (KJV)
As we go further in the New Testament, you might want to mark the "ifs" as we come to them. They tell an interesting story, and that story is not eternal security.
I know that when I apply 1 Kings 9:1-9 to the subject of eternal security, I’m using an Old Covenant passage to apply to New Covenant people. My justification for that is 1 Corinthians 10:1-12. If for some reason you don’t trust what I’m saying here, even though it was the only and universal teaching of the early churches formed by the apostles, read through that passage. I shouldn’t have to explain that the point of that passage is to tell us Christians that we should look at the way God treated Israel and realize that he is going to treat us the same way. It ends with, "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."
1 Kings 9
The definition of the name Cabul can’t be pinned down certainly, but it sounds a lot like a Hebrew phrase that means "good for nothing." It may also come from an Akkadian root (the Akkadians preceded the Babylonians as a civilization) that means "restricted" or "bound."
It appears most Bible notes prefer "good for nothing" as the meaning.
The NASB that I usually use has "Millo" in verse 24 that Solomon built for Pharaoh’s daughter. The New English Translation Bible says the word means "terrace," and they render the verse that way, but Strong’s Concordance says it’s part of the fortifications of Jerusalem.
Ophir is probably in southeast Arabia, though there’s disagreement about that. You can read the arguments for or against that at the link I just gave you (which is very short and to the point).
1 Kings 10: The Queen of Sheba
The Queen of Sheba is a well-known figure, and her story is central to Ethiopia’s history. Surprisingly, however, archaeologists can’t say for certain where Sheba is! I read some arguments for Ethiopia and some for Yemen, and the archaeological arguments that ancient Sheba was in modern Yemen seemed the best to me.
Ethiopia, however, has a better story. They say the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon and came back pregnant (cf. v. 13). She had a son named Menelik. When Menelik was grown, he visited Solomon, and Solomon offered to let him reign in his place when he died. Menelik turned him down and returned to Ethiopia, but not before stealing the ark of the covenant with his entourage. Ethiopia claims to this day to possess the ark of the covenant and to know exactly where it is.
This story is at the very basis of the nation of Ethiopia, giving its kings the divine right to rule, but there’s no primary evidence for it. It’s just such a prominent, well-known story that it’s hard to believe there’s absolutely no basis for it. While the details may not be true (like the legend that she had one goat’s foot), the prominence of the story does provide some evidence that the queen of Sheba was from Ethiopia.
If you want to calculate all the amounts of metals, here’s how to do it (ref):
1 talent = 60 mina = 3600 shekels = 30 kg. (66 lbs.)
1 mina = 60 shekels (the Jewish Virtual Library says 50 shekels) = 500 g. (1.1 lbs.)
Thus, a shekel is about 1/3 of an oz.
The 666 talents of gold that Solomon received each year was, according to my calculator, 43,956 pounds or just over 20 tons.
Finally, I can’t help remembering God’s command to Israel’s king not to multiply gold and silver to himself, nor to build up horses from Egypt (Deut. 17:16-17). Solomon violated this so badly that silver was worthless in his day!
1 Kings 11
In the first few verses of this chapter, the scribe who wrote Solomon’s history finally stops praising him for violating the Law of Moses. He doesn’t reference the Law of Moses, which forbids the king multiplying wives to himself, but he does point out that the Lord had warned the Israelites not to become too friendly with the nations that Solomon was getting his wives from. The danger was that they would shift their allegiance to foreign gods, and that is exactly what happened to Solomon.
The reason that only eleven tribes (ten for Jeroboam, one for Solomon and Rehoboam) are mentioned is not certain to me. It is probable that the tribe of Levi is left out because they did not have any land of their own; thus, they are included in both kingdoms and "owned" by neither.
History says, though, that David’s house held onto not just Judah, but Benjamin as well. Eventually, the ten northern tribes (which included Manasseh and Ephraim, the two sons of Joseph, rather than just Joseph) became lost to history after their capture by Assyria. Judah remained, however, and that is why the Jews were called the Jews, short for Judah.
Thus, in the apostles’ writings we read about descendants of Judah and about Levites, but not about any of the other tribes except Benjamin. Paul is from the tribe of Benjamin (Php. 3:5).
Finally, the Book of the Acts of Solomon (v. 41) is not known to us today.
1 Kings 12
This is the story of the split of Israel into Israel and Judah. I tell this story to children all the time. It’s one of the more popular stories I tell. (Several of the stories in Daniel are very popular with children, too.)
In verses 20 and 21, you can see the Judah/Benjamin difficulty. Verse 20 says only the tribe of Judah followed Rehoboam, but in verse 21 we see him gathering warriors from Judah and Benjamin.
I’m not sure why the terminology in Kings is like that, but it is. The one tribe of Judah included Benjamin. That’s not a mistake. It’s repeated consistently. For some reason, that seemed normal to the scribe who wrote this portion of the Book of Kings.
The chapter ends with Jeroboam’s faulty reasoning about how to keep his kingdom. His decision would lead to his family losing the throne within a few generations, and eventually would lead to Israel, the northern kingdom, becoming so evil that God let them be dragged off permanently, lost to history.
We were created by God, and when our reasoning does not include him, we lose all wisdom and reap the results of that. We may feel very wise today, with our scientific advancement and our insights into the universe and evolution, but our society’s exclusion of the influence of God has led to rampant loneliness, depression, and crime. Science has not come up with a way to overcome the flesh. Only Jesus can do that. The great miracle of the New Covenant is to enter into fellowship with God through the blood of Jesus Christ, and to become children of God by being infused with his Spirit.
That can’t be measured, quantified, or put in a test tube, but it can produce results that can be seen and marveled at. That is why it is so important for us to live spiritually, being taught by God, and growing in unity and love, for our unity and love is the testimony to the world that Jesus is who he said he was (Jn. 17:20-23 and 13:34-35).