Introduction to 1 Kings: It’s interesting to read that we don’t know who wrote the two books of Kings. I do like that based on what’s written here that we can determine when they were most likely written. For example, “based on the latest events recorded in 2 Kings, the author must be living either in exile in Babylon or in Jerusalem in the post-exilic era” (CEB Study Bible, p. 514 OT).
According to the introduction in the CEB Study Bible, the writer provided several reasons for the downfall and exile of Israel: (1) idolatry, (2) failure to listen to and obey the words of the prophets, and (3) failure to live by the instruction from Moses. Whereas Judah’s downfall was largely because Judah’s kings didn’t follow David’s example.
1 Kings 1: David is now old and is helped by a beautiful young woman, who he doesn’t have sex with. David’s oldest living son, Adonijah, tries to start a rebellion and take the throne. The head of David’s army, Joab, and David’s priest, Abiathar, support this move. Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, is approached by the prophet Nathan. He tells her what to say and then tells her to go to David. David declares that Solomon will be the next King and the priest annoints him as the next King. Abiathar hears of this and is afraid. His supporters flee while he goes to Solomon and asks for mercy.
1 Kings 2: David’s last words (again) and his death are addressed in the beginning of this chapter. David gives advice to Solomon. First, to follow God’s rules. Second, kill Joab and Shimei, but don’t kill Abner and Amasa. Then, David dies and is buried with his ancestors. He reigned for 40 years.
Solomon works to strengthen his kingship and secure his throne. He orders Benaiah, who ends up being the leader of his army, to kill his older brother, Adonijah. Solomon orders the priest, Abiathar, to go to his fields and never return (essentially he is put in exile). Benaiah then kills Joab and finally kills Shimei.
1 Kings 3: Now we get to Solomon’s reign. He marries a Pharaoh’s daughter. According to the NRSV notes, “this marriage is also mentioned in the Masoretic Text (MT) in 7.8 and 9.16-17, 24, while the LXX reports it in different places (2.35c.f.; 5.14; 7.45)” (p. 492). Kinda neat.
God visits Solomon in a dream and tells him that whatever he asks for is his. Solomon’s response is pretty incredible:
6 Solomon responded, “You showed so much kindness to your servant my father David when he walked before you in truth, righteousness, and with a heart true to you. You’ve kept this great loyalty and kindness for him and have now given him a son to sit on his throne. 7 And now, Lord my God, you have made me, your servant, king in my father David’s place. But I’m young and inexperienced. I know next to nothing. 8 But I’m here, your servant, in the middle of the people you have chosen, a large population that can’t be numbered or counted due to its vast size. 9 Please give your servant a discerning mind in order to govern your people and to distinguish good from evil, because no one is able to govern this important people of yours without your help.”
Well said Solomon. God grants this request and then also gives him wealth and fame. God also says that as long as Solomon obeys him, then he will have a long life.
Solomon’s first test comes when two prostitutes approach him each claiming a child as their own because a second child died. Solomon suggests they cut the living child in half and uses the responses of the women to determine who is the real mother. Kinda clever, but damn, even reading this made me recoil.
Psalm 52: The psalmist directly addresses a self-confident, wicked person, making it clear that they pretty much are nothing if they don’t trust God. The psalmist even talks about wealth again.
I just can’t help but think of how this psalm relates to the current political situation in the US. Wealth is given such a high status, even in government. It’s sad.
Psalm 53: Interesting little tidbit from the notes in the NRSV version:
Refusal to be silenced by those who deny God’s justice. A condemnation of those who deny that God is active in the world, and a declaration of trust in the God who cares for the poor (among whom the psalmist wants to be counted). This psalm is a near duplicate of Ps 14. A major difference is that this psalm is part of the “Elohistic Psalter” (Pss 42–83), which prefers the divine name “Elohim,” translated “God” rather than “the Lord,” and thus replaces many of the “Lord”s of Ps 14 with “God.” (p. 816-817; emphasis is mine)
As with an earlier Psalm, I don’t have a lot to say here. It’s interesting that this psalm talks about corruption and horrible deeds. Again, makes me think of the current US government.
Psalm 54: Psalm focuses on God’s power and his ability to save. As with many other psalms, the message to me is that as long as God is on your side, you’re going to be just fine.
Psalm 55: The psalmist is asking for God to save them from the trouble caused by a friend who originally entered God’s house with them but has now gone down the wrong path.