We wrap up 2 Kings and the sad story of Israel and Judah’s demise. Then, we skip ahead several books and begin reading Isaiah which, in my opinion, is one of the most fascinating prophets in the Bible. A lot of people have trouble reading the prophets, but I really enjoy them!
2 Kings 15-17
- 15:1 – Azariah was also known as Uzziah, who we’ll hear about in the book of Isaiah.
- 15:4-5 – Though Azariah was faithful in a lot of ways, he did not destroy the opportunities for the Israelites to worship other gods. His punishment was leprosy.
- 15:12-13 – Shallum was no longer in the same family as the previous kings.
- 15:16 – This kind of terror and violence was foretold by Elisha. Because Israel had strayed so far from God, Hazael of Syria and others were able to get in and cause total chaos and destruction. Elisha and God were not pleased by these consequences, but they knew and warned that Israel’s sins would lead them to this type of harm.
- 15:37 – Not only had Israel split in two (Israel and Judah) politically, but now Israel has joined forces with Syria to attack Judah. Remember, that Israel and Judah are all descendants of one family.
- 16:10-16 – King Ahaz, the new king of Judah, builds an alter replicating the one in Assyria. This is not an altar to God, but to one of the Assyrian gods. The king of Assyria then dictates what types of offerings the people of Judah should offer.
- 16:19 – After each king’s profile it says that the rest of what that king did is written in a different book. The writers of 1 and 2 Kings only included what the king did in relation to God and the covenant the Israelites had with God.
- 17:6-18 – After a steady series of sinful kings and repetitive sinning by the nation, God allows the Assyrians to capture all the Israelites and take them to their country. This makes it clear that they are now separated from God because they no longer have their promised land or any of their identifying marks that were to set them apart for God.
- 17:21 – The split of the two kingdoms of Israel, the sinfulness of the country, and the eventual exile of both kingdoms (only one has happened so far) all trace back to Jeroboam’s sinfulness.
- 17:34-40 – The Israelites had been given every opportunity to choose to live faithfully. They continued to choose not to and broke every part of their covenant with God. Because of this, God allowed them to face the consequences of all their unfaithfulness.
2 Kings 12-14
- 12:2-3 – Joash is considered a faithful king. Thankfully he had a great advisor, Jehoiada, the priest. The “high places” listed here were places of worship to God, not other gods, that is why it was good that they were kept.
- 12:4-8 – Joash institutes a plan to repair the temple. The priests don’t comply and then somehow reach a compromise to no longer take people’s money and also not to repair the temple.
- 12:21 – Now Joash is killed and his son Amaziah takes over.
- 13:4 – Jehoahaz repents in order to have relief from the constant attack of the Syrians.
- 13:5 – This “savior” was not the Messiah. This was someone who saved them from military attacks. It is uncertain who this was.
- 13:14-19 – Elisha gives Joash the opportunity to end their thumpings by Syria, but he does not complete the job and is limited to a temporary break in defeats.
- 13:21 – This is told simply to display that amount of God’s power Elisha possessed.
- 13:22-23 – Though Syria heavily oppressed Israel, the Israelites were not completely banished by God. The writer is telling us that at this point in history, the full covenantal curse (all the consequences of breaking their covenant with God) would come to fruition.
- 14:3-6 – Amaziah was a faithful king, but not quite as faithful as David. He avenges his father’s death according to Moses’ Law.
- 14:9-10 – In his reply, Jehoash refers to himself as a cedar – a revered, strong, established tree, and to Amaziah as a wimpy thistle.
2 Kings 8-11
- 8:10 – God made it clear that the king would not die from the illness, but he would die soon.
- 8:15 – Hazael kills the king by putting a wet, heavy blanket on his face and suffocating him.
- 9:1—You’ve read the phrase “gird up your loins” a few times now, and you’re going to read it a lot more as we continue through the Old Testament. Here’s an excellent visual aid and a brief description of what it means
- 9:4-6 – Jehu is made king over Israel after quite a line of evil kings.
- 9:14-22 – Joram was king of Israel. Jehu wanted to be. Ahaziah was the short-lived king of Judah. Jehu confirms that he’s not coming in peace because peace is impossible while Joram still allows his mother Jezebel’s evil ways to remain in the land.
- 9:25-26 – King Ahab wanted to buy Naboth’s plot of land, but Naboth wouldn’t sell. Jezebal told Ahab to have Naboth killed, so he did.
- 9:29 – This is the same Ahaziah that just died. There was also a king of Israel named Ahaziah, but he’s already come and gone. Confused yet? This verse is here because Ahaziah King of Judah hasn’t been discussed much, and the author wants to clarify the timeline a bit.
- 10:1-8 – Naturally, one of Ahab’s sons should have become king after Ahaziah’s death, but Jehu assures that doesn’t happen by killing them all.
- 10:18-31 – Jehu seems to have such potential to be faithful to God by wiping out Baal from Israel, but he remains sinful in other ways.
- 11:12 – Though Athaliah was ruling in Judah, Joash was the rightful king. When he was 7, he was crowned king by Jehoiada the priest.
2 Kings 4-7
- 4:1-7 – The Lord provided for the woman when it seemed impossible. He multiplied the oil to make it profitable for her so she could take care of herself and her son.
- 4:8-10 – Above and beyond hospitality
- 4:11-17 – Elisha was blessed and then asked the Lord to bless the woman in return.
- 4:18-25 – This child was promised to the woman as a gift from God, and now he dies. The woman’s faith is greatly tested. She puts him on his bed and shuts the door so no one else will know he died. She seeks Elisha to explain what’s going on with her son since Elisha was the one who told her she would have this child.
- 4:32-44 – Note that there are three miracles in a row. A resurrection, providing food where there is none, and providing more food than there actually was. Any time there are three of something in Scripture, we should pay attention. Elisha is clearly connected to and filled with the power of God.
- 5:9-10 – Though Elisha invites Naaman to his house, he does not let him in. This is strange considering the hospitality culture of ancient Israelites.
- 5:11 – Naaman wanted a grand, miraculous healing and thought Elisha’s instructions were a farce.
- 5:15-16 – It was not unusual for faithful Israelites to turn down gifts from other nations. This was to show their commitment to the provision of God and so no other nation or god could take credit for the Israelites’ well-being.
- 5:17—It would have been considered improper to offer a sacrifice to the God of Israel unless one was standing on Israelite soil. Gods in the ancient world were considered to be tied to physical locations. Naaman is asking for soil from Israel so that he can properly worship God- and begging forgiveness because he knows that he will have to enter the temple of another God because his king will require him to.
- 5:20-27 – Gehazi did not trust the Lord for provision and saw an opportunity. He lied to both Naaman and Elisha and his punishment was receiving the leprosy Naaman had.
- 6:1-7 – This was not just a party trick or Elisha showing off. The man’s accident with the axe head was done while attempting to be more faithful. Elisha used God’s power to bless his faith.
- 6:15-19 – Elisha’s servant is given special sight to see what’s going on. The Aramean army is not struck completely blind, but just blind to Elisha’s true identity.
- 6:20-23 – Though a rare occasion in the Old Testament, the Arameans and Israelites are able to resolve the situation peacefully.
- 6:25 – People are buying donkey heads and dove poop. Clearly the famine was really bad. They were so desperate they were eating the least desirable part of an unclean animal and paying high dollar for dove poop – which they were probably burning or using for other household tasks – not eating it.
- 6:26-31 – While this story is absolutely horrifying – here is some background: Joram was the king of Israel. His sins as well as the sins of the people had gotten so out of control that some of the curses associated with breaking their covenant with God had started to occur. Though Joram’s response in verse 31 suggests that the famine and reactions by the people are God or Elisha’s fault, it was actually caused by the ongoing sin of the people.
- 7:3-20 – The four lepers were Israelites, this is why they tell the king when the Syrians’ camp is empty. The Israelites, like Elisha prophesied, had abundant, affordable food.
2 Kings 1-3
- 1:2 – Reminder: Ahaziah is the king of Israel. It is obviously not good that he’s seeking advice from Baal-zebub (Later Christian theologians will use the name “Beelzebub” to refer to what they considered an especially powerful demon- that name and the demon they believed it represented are derived from this pagan god that Ahaziah is, apparently, worshipping).
- 1:3 – A little sass from Elijah – clearly God was present, but Ahaziah chooses to consult other gods.
- 1:8 – This is very similar to the outfit John the Baptist was described to have worn. John the Baptist was considered the second Elijah.
- 1:9-16 – The first two captains with soldiers the king sent were most likely intending to do Elijah harm, this is why he wants to have them killed. The third captain and soldiers come more peacefully- this begs the question of why the second captain was just as rude as the first one. If you know that the guy you’ve been sent to arrest can kill you with magic sky-fire anytime he wants, it’s kind of your own fault if you tick him off and he kills you with the aforementioned fire.
- 2:8 – Very reminiscent of Moses parting the Red Sea.
- 2:11-12 – Elijah is the second person in the Old Testament who doesn’t die. Enoch was the first who was simply taken to heaven. Fun fact: lots of people think this verse is evidence of extraterrestrial activity in the ancient Middle East. (Hint: it’s not.)
- 2:23-25 – Most commentaries explain this as the boys having such disrespect, as did all their people, for the prophet Elisha or anything else representative of God. Elisha’s curse was also representative of the fate of the rest of the people in the city who rejected God. All in all, this is a strange and disturbing passage. This was also the very first Bible verse I memorized.
- 3:9 – The kingdoms of Israel and Judah had not been united on anything since just after Solomon’s reign.
- 3:13 – Elisha learned his sass from Elijah. The king of Israel’s parents worshipped Baal. Elisha is pointing out that the king wants the Lord’s help even though he hasn’t been faithful to the Lord.
- 3:17-19 – It is often the simplest things that prove God’s favor or lack thereof. Like when wandering in the desert, the Israelites lack water and God provides it.
3:27 – The King of Moab who sacrificed his son did not do this to honor God. God did not ask this of him.
1 Kings 20-22
- 20:1-12 – Ahab realizes that there is little chance they can beat the Arameans. He is willing to concede the best of the Israelites’ possessions, but is not willing to concede the entire city. Even by the way he addresses Ben-Hadad as “my lord and king” it shows that Ahab knows he has lost.
- 20:22 – Israel has won the battle, not the war. In the ancient world, however, wars were almost never fought in summer or winter: summer was too hot and the soldiers would be exhausted just from carrying their weapons and shields in the heat, and winters were very wet and often snowy (yes- there are places in the middle east that get snow in winter), so the battlefield would either be covered in mud that made fighting impossible or would be cold enough that soldiers would suffer frostbite and even freeze to death. So, you always fought wars in the spring- it was neither too hot nor too cold and it rarely rained. The Arameans will return next spring; the prophet urges Ahab to strengthen his army in the meantime.
- 20:27 – Paints a very intimidating picture for the Israelites.
- 20:28-30—God is going to give Israel the victory again, but notice why God is helping the Israelites: it’s not because they’ve been faithful or because God is protecting, it’s because God needs to teach the Arameans that they’re wrong- that the God of Israel is the only God. Ahab isn’t winning this war because he’s a good king or a good leader- he’s winning because this war isn’t about Israel vs Aram, it’s about God vs evil, just like so many of the other conflicts in the Old Testament.
- 20:31-43 – Once again, Ahab does not follow the instructions of the Lord. God gave Ben-hadad into Ahab’s hands, but Ahab makes a covenant with Ben-hadad in order to gain more land and wealth. The prophet makes it clear that this will result in Ahab’s demise.
- 21:1-15 – Jezebel is the worst
- 21:27-29 – After all his wrongdoing, Ahab repents and God has mercy on him and saves his punishment for his son. This seems unfair, but presumably, if the son follows the Lord, the punishment might be postponed again.
- 22:5 – Jehoshaphat was willing to go into an alliance with Ahab, but only if the Lord approved it.
- 22:6-8 – The 400 prophets who gave Ahab the go-ahead were not prophets of the Lord. Micaiah was and he spoke truth from the Lord. Ahab preferred good news to truth.
- 22:40 – Micaiah was right. Ahab trying to conquer Ramoth-gilead was a bad idea. He dies in battle and Ahaziah takes over.
- 22:42-44 – It seems that Jehoshaphat intended to honor and worship God, but he failed in certain areas – leaving up certain allegiances to other gods and making an alliance with someone who did not honor God.
1 Kings 17-19
- 17:2-7 – This is Elijah, not Ahab, who is living by the brook and being fed by ravens.
- 17:8-16 – As a widow, she would have had no source of income. It took a great act of faith to risk the little she had on a promise that she would be taken care of.
- 18:7-16 – Though Obadiah was a high-ranking official in Ahab’s kingdom, he followed the Lord. Obadiah, here, fears that Elijah will not present himself to Ahab and Obadiah will look like a liar and be killed.
- 18:22-24 – Though we are not normally supposed to put God to the test, Elijah, a prophet of God, was clearly intended to do this.
- 18:27 – Elijah taunts the prophets of Baal as they desperately try to get Baal to show up.
- 18:39 – God’s power, which proves to be far greater than Baal’s, turns people’s hearts back to him.
- 19:8 – Moses, Jesus, and Elijah all experienced 40 day fasts. Notice that each of them have just experienced or are simultaneously experiencing the power and glory of God. Jesus had just been baptized and received the Holy Spirit, Moses was on the mountain with God, and Elijah had just seen God consume a bull with fire.
- 19:11-12 – Often we miss God’s voice and what he’s calling us to do because we’re distracted by the chaos and the big shows. At times, we must be quiet and still to hear him in the whisper.
- 19:14-18 – Elijah felt very alone in his faithfulness to God and even feared for his life. God made it clear that he was not alone, but that God would take care of those who had been faithful while punishing those who had not.
- 19:19 – Elijah putting his cloak on Elisha symbolizes a transfer of power.
- 19:20-21 – Elijah’s response is unclear, but Elisha takes care of a few final things and then begins his life working with and learning from Elijah.
1 Kings 14-16
- Clarification because of all the rhyming names: Rehoboam = Solomon’s son who was king of only Judah and Benjamin. Jeroboam = one of Solomon’s former officials who God appointed king over Israel. Abijah = Jeroboam’s son. Ahijah = a prophet who told Jeroboam he would be king.
- 14:6-12 – Choosing and worshipping other gods was the most egregious sin someone could commit. Losing a child is the most painful punishment one could receive.
- 14:22-24 – Though it seemed harsh at the time, now it makes sense why God drove other people groups out of the land intended for the Israelites. They were to be set apart so they wouldn’t be influenced to worship other gods and disobey God’s law. By intermingling, they have now fallen prey to these temptations.
- 15:9-24—Asa will be one of the few good kings after Solomon- he’s not the only one, but they’ll be few and far between.
- 16:29-33 – Ahab was the worst of the worst. We’re about to read about him a lot.
The list of the kings of both Judah and Israel can become complicated. Here is a chart of who was king of where when.
1 Kings 11-13
- 11: 1-3 – Solomon knew the law and knew the reasoning for the law, but he was unable to withstand his desires and ultimately, it led to his downfall.
- 11:4-8 – David sinned, but never worshipped or offered any sort of allegiance to other gods. Solomon divided his heart between many gods, this breaks the first and most important commandment. Note that Solomon succumbed to this sin even though he was full of God-given wisdom. Nobody-nobody– is above sinning and turning away from God, hence the need for Jesus.
- 11:11-13 – God promised that David’s line would be on the throne as long as they were faithful to him. Solomon has already failed there. God had such love for David, though, that he allows his line to stay partially in leadership. (and, ultimately, Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise)
- 11:40 – Clearly Solomon had strayed far from God if he was willing to oppose God’s will even to the point of killing God’s chosen future king. It’s fair to wonder how Israel’s history might have unfolded differently if he hadn’t done this- perhaps the kingdom would have remained united.
- 12:6-8 – Rehoboam had a chance to be a beloved king. He only needed to listen to the wise counsel of the older men and lighten the load of the people. It’s incredibly tragic that he chooses to do the opposite.
- 12:8-15 – Rehoboam, instead, listens to his bonehead friends and chooses to increase the difficulty of the people. Rehoboam’s sin ultimately causes the split of the kingdom, which, over time, causes all kinds of problems and makes them so vulnerable that both parts of the kingdom are conquered.
- It’s about to start getting confusing with who was king of where when. Here’s a simple chart to help you keep them straight.
- 12:25-33 – Jeroboam has every reason to trust God because he had made it clear that he would keep him in power because of his great love for David. Jeroboam almost immediately loses trust and builds golden calves so he wouldn’t lose his portion of Israelites.
- 13:11-25 – This story gets confusing with the old prophet and the original prophet and the man of God. Note that the prophet should have listened to God above anything else. Ultimately, listening to the other prophet caused his death.
- 13:33-34 – Jeroboam continued to stray further and further from God’s will.