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Week 44 January 26, 2022

What we are reading this week (beginning Thursday, January 27, 2022):

• 1 Kings 11-17

• Job 19-25

• 1 Chronicles 11-17

As the rest of the world impatiently waits for the winter blues to pass, we can taste the end from here. We only have eight weeks to go!

Notes on 1 Kings

“Seven hundred wives of noble birth” (11.1) Wow! You have to think there were a lot of these wives that Solomon never actually met ever. He understood political alignment, but forgot the biblical command that the king was not to take on many wives. Seven hundred is “many” in anyone’s definition. This was a fatal error, for the influence of his foreign, pagan wives eventually turned him (11.3). After building the Temple in all of its glory, he then proceeded built high places for Chemosh and Molek in deference to these heathen wives (11.7). What a disgrace! This flagrant disobedience was in the face of God, who had granted Israel eighty years of peace and prosperity between his and his father David’s tenures. The seeds were sown for the coming downfall (11.14, 21). Israel was never again to experience this level of blessing. Jeroboam was one of Solomon’s officials (11.26), God himself would raise him up to oppose Solomon’s son, taking ten of the dozen tribes with him in seceding from the nation (11.29-31).

In spite of Solomon’s 700 wives and 300 concubines, as far as we know he produced only one child from all of these unions: his son, Rehoboam. This one heir desperately lacked his father’s wisdom, and in short order had a major mutiny on his hands due to his foolishness. Ten of the tribes of Israel seceded from the nation, with only Judah and little Benjamin remaining with Rehoboam (Benjamin is so small that the two together are counted as one tribe: see 11.30-32). The nation splits in two in chapter twelve. The northern kingdom immediately builds two golden calves. They also build altars on the high places. They will never experience a time of righteousness before the Lord. After forty years of David’s reign followed by forty years of Solomon, there will be radical, and generally negative turns of events for God’s Chosen. It would have been awesome to live during the times of Israel’s second and third kings. Not so much with Rehoboam, number four.

One of the great sins of the northern kingdom was that priests were assigned their office as political favors, not as the descendants of Levi (13.33). Many if not most of the Levites migrated south because of this.

In chapter 14, Jeroboam sends his wife to “sneak up” on the blind prophet Ahijah to find out about the future of their son. This account does not end well.

The ten tribes lived in the northern part of the country and are referred to from this point on as Israel. The two tribes to the south are collectively referred to as Judah. The rest of 1 and 2 Kings (as well as 1 and 2 Chronicles) will document the line of kings, along with significant events of their reigns. As they change kings, both Kings and Chronicles will cross-reference the two kingly lines. For example, in 1 Kings 15.1 we read: “In the eighteenth year of the reign of Jeroboam son of Nebat (i.e., current king of Israel), Abijah became king of Judah.”

There was much animosity and fighting between Israel and Judah at this time (e.g., 15.6). Through the course of time, the kings of the respective kingdoms would sometimes be enemies, sometimes allies.

In 16.1, the word of God is sent to Jehu, a zealous but ungodly man. The Lord used him to do a lot of deconstruction of the enemies of Yahweh, but we do not see any real spiritual life ever materialize in this king. The prophet Elijah is introduced to us in chapter 17. He prophesied almost exclusively to the kings of the northern kingdom. He will be the archetype of the prophet.

There will be many kings on both sides. Kings are rated in the text as those who did right in the sight of the Lord, and those who did not. Some of the kings of Judah were good, some evil. However, every single one of the kings of Israel were wicked.

The kings of Judah continued the family line of David. The kings of Israel were more traditional, where people often manipulated or even killed each other in order to attain power. I get a kick out of the simplicity of some of the descriptions; e.g., 1 Kings 16:21-22: “Then the people of Israel were split into two factions; half supported Tibni son of Ginath for king, and the other half supported Omri. But Omri’s followers proved stronger than those of Tibni son of Ginath. So Tibni died and Omri became king.” Not much of a consolation prize for 2nd place!

Notes on Job

The dialogue continues. The words of 19.23-24 are ironic: “Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever!” They were, indeed!

In 19.26, there is an allusion to resurrection, a theme that is very rarely found in the Old Testament.

Zophar gets offended by Job’s responses (20.3). He goes on with platitudes and cliches. Before you resort to memorizing or developing any theology based on these words, keep in mind that all of this will be dissed by God at the end.

Job’s response to this is classic: “Bear with me while I speak, and after I have spoken, mock on” (21.3). And, “So how can you console me with your nonsense?” (21.34). The common human theme of “Why do the wicked prosper, and I get punished for my faithfulness?” runs through this chapter, especially 21.7-16.

In chapter 22, Eliphaz makes some startling accusations against Job. Supposedly, he was a friend and should have known a lot about Job. However, Job counters all of his accusations in 29.12-17. See also 27.5-6. In round three, the “friends” became exasperated because Job continues to maintain his innocence. In 22.4, Eliphaz (you can almost hear him screaming it) says, “Is it for your piety that he rebukes you and brings charges against you? Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless?”

He then accuses Job of all kinds of sins, including extortion and of dishonest practices that hurt others, widows and orphans in particular. But apparently, all of this was simply conjecture. In 23.10, Job simply says, “But [God] knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”

Job’s words in 23.12 suggest a great motto for our own lives: “I have not departed from the words of his mouth. I have treasured his words more than my daily bread.” Notes on 1 Chronicles

Now that we have emerged from the genealogies, we come upon the history line where David appears. Our reading here is a few years behind accounts of the same events and monarchs that we are reading in 1 Kings. In the Chronicles, nothing will be written about David’s sin with Bathsheba. David comes to the throne in chapter eleven. We do not find the hanging resistance of Saul’s leftover contingent here as we did in 2 Samuel.

We find how David had chosen Joab in 11.6. This is one of the few really bad decisions that David makes as a leader. Joab was a highly capable military man, but had a very, very bad heart attitude. We will not see it so much in the Chronicles, but his failures and shortcomings and outright rebellion were well-documented in 2 Samuel. I always like to reflect on 12.32, whenever I re-read this book: “from Issachar, men who understood the times, and knew what Israel should do.” How we need men like this today! All of worship of Israel ultimately centers around the ark of the covenant (which eventually was supposed to reside in the holy of holies in the heart of the Temple); where the Lord dwelt between the wings of the cherubim. David understood this significance, and we see that he went to great lengths to bring the ark to Jerusalem, and house it (in his famous worship tent). Saul, his predecessor, apparently didn’t care (see 13.36). David collected women throughout his tenure. This created a lot of problems for him (see 14.3).

The Philistines came looking for David (never forgetting their humiliation regarding Goliath). Instead of running away or being afraid, David went right after them, handing them another humiliating defeat (14.8-16).

In chapter 15, the ark was finally brought to Jerusalem with shouts, singing, and music. David was so fired up spiritually that he danced wildly before the Lord. In spite of being king, David remained an avid and demonstrative worshiper throughout his life. Here, he even dressed the part (15.27). Lacking the Temple, David pitched a tent for the ark (16.1). An ongoing worship service in the tent was initiated by the wise and godly king. This worship setting will be (arguably) God’s favorite of all.

Asaph was appointed as a worship leader in 16.7. You will find his name associated with many of the Psalms in their intro notes. David fully understood the significance of Israel in the overall plan of the kingdom of God (17.20-22).

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