Why did God give us 1 & 2 Kings?
So we would see God’s patience as he pleads with his people to repent, his mercy when they do repent, and his wrath towards sin when they refuse to repent.
The books of 1 and 2 Samuel showed Israel changing from a divided Kingdom at war with itself, to a united Kingdom under King David—God even promises that David’s family will always rule Israel, so there is stability and hope of future blessing. But tragically, the books of 1 and 2 Kings show that united Kingdom crumble into two warring kingdoms, both of which are plagued with idolatry.
David’s son Solomon builds the temple of the Lord, and God blesses his reign. But in his prosperity, he began to break God’s laws. At the end of his life he worshiped foreign gods. His son Rehoboam tried to rule with a heavy hand, so the ten northern tribes rejected his rule and split the kingdom in two. Nevertheless, because of God’s promises to David, he allows Rehoboam to rule two tribes in the south.
God sent a prophet to anoint a King in the north, and God promised to bless him if he remained faithful to the Lord; but that king was afraid his people would eventually reject him if they worshipped at Solomon’s temple in the southern kingdom—so he set up an idol for the people to worship instead. This idolatry led to the destruction of Israel. The northern kingdom never had a godly king. Many prophets like Elijah and Elisha warn them of God’s judgment if they do not repent; but they never turn to the Lord, and so God sends the Kingdom of Assyria to conquer them in 722 B.C. The northern tribes never return from their exile.
The Southern Kingdom of Judah has a few godly Kings, but most of their Kings also worshipped foreign idols. God sent prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah to warn his people and some of them do listen. There are a few revivals where God’s people repent of their sins and experience his blessings. But after one evil king sacrifices his own sons to false gods, God says his judgment is inevitable. In 586 B.C., Babylon comes and destroys Jerusalem, demolishes the temple and carries the king and his people into exile.
As 2 Kings ends, we wonder, is God going to break his promise to David? Is there any hope that the blessings promised to Abraham will be fulfilled? Psalm 89 records the desperate cry of God’s broken people: “How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?” (ESV). It’s helpful to read the sad cries of God’s people—even those who trusted God had to live through evil days. When our hearts are afraid, we can voice their prayers, and know God has been with his people in dark times before.
There is hope. God never breaks his promises.