The books of Kings present to us the dark days of Israel as a kingdom. The books of Kings originally formed one book only in the Hebrew Bible. The author’s name is not mentioned, but according to Jewish tradition in the Talmud, the author is Jeremiah. However, it is interesting that his name is not mentioned in the descriptions of the lives of the last kings to reign in Judah.
The books of Kings describe how the kingdom of Israel was divided after the reign and death of Solomon, the third king to reign over Israel for 40 years. Saul and David reigned for 40 years as described in the books of Samuel. The books of Kings also present two well-known prophets – Elijah and Elisha. Elijah mainly prophesied about judgement for Israel and especially king Ahab who was very wicked. However, there was a hint of grace in the messages of Elijah. The prophet Elijah did not see death although he desired of God to die (1 Kings 19:4) after fleeing from Ahab and Jezebel, but God in His grace did not permit this. In fact, Elijah was taken up to heaven in a chariot and whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11), a type of the rapture of the believers when Christ will come for His own.
The next prophet was Elisha, who was following Elijah. Elisha also preached judgement, but there was more grace in his messages than that of Elijah. Elisha also did many miracles and wonders that have not been heard of in the Old Testament before. We can see some types of the Lord Jesus Christ in Elisha. One known event after the death of Elisha is that a dead man was buried in the tomb of Elisha, and upon touching Elisha’s bones, the dead man was revived and stood on his feet (2 Kings 13:21).
I will now attempt to divide the books of Kings in a simple outline for further personal study. The first book of Kings can be divided as follows:
- 1 Kings chapters 1-2:11; David’s last days and his charge to Solomon.
- 1 Kings 2:12 – chapter11; the kingdom of Solomon, his reign, wisdom, greatness, failure and his death.
- 1 Kings chapters 12 – 22; the divided kingdom as a result of Rehoboam’s decisions. From chapter 17 we see the prophet Elijah on the scene and until the end we see events in his life and his messages to king Ahab.
The second book of Kings can be divided as follows:
- 2 Kings 1-2:11; Elijah’s final ministry and being taken up to heaven.
- 2 Kings 2:12 – 17; Elisha’s ministry, miracles, the war with Syria, and the decline of Israel and Judah.
- 2 Kings 18 – 25; King Hezekiah and the subsequent reign of his sons, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah and the last kings of Judah. The kingdom of Judah until the captivity to Babylon.
May the Lord help us to diligently study these books and see in the pages of the books of Kings pictures and types of His Person and His work. It is only when we see Christ in the books of Kings that we benefit from such study. Christ can be seen in some of the godly kings in their total dependence upon God. There are also types of Christ in the prophets Elijah and Elisha.
I have used the aid of Arend Remmers and Arno Gaebelein’s overviews and comments in putting this outline together. These comments are available on a website called http://www.biblecentre.org and is full of rich spiritual resources.