Date: Approx. 600 BC
After King David, his son Solomon reigned over the kingdom of Israel. Under his rule, the country prospered as never before or since. He built a magnificent temple in the capital Jerusalem and a series of fortifications. Trade and economy flourished and the military was modernized.
There were also less positive aspects during his reign. King Solomon spent more than came in. It caused unrest in the country by raising taxes. He saw himself as a serious leader.
His good and bad sides balanced each other out. He had a strong personality and as long as Solomon lived, everything was fine. After his death, the divided in the country struck.
Rehoboam son of Solomon tried to carry on his father's line. He couldn't. The empire split into 2 parts along the regional borders. The southern part remained faithful to Rehoboam and was given the name Judah. While the northern part was led by Jeroboam and was given the name Israel.
In these books we read about the fortunes of the kings of both kingdoms, to the ruin of both. Violence and instability dominated the northern kingdom of Israel. God sent prophets to this kingdom, such as Elijah and Elisha. These rulers hardly paid any attention to God. The most famous among them are the worst: Ahab and Jezebel.
The southern kingdom of Judah had good and bad rulers. Sometimes there were positive revivals to God under Hezekiah and Josiah. To this kingdom were sent prophets such as Isaiah and Micah.
In these books the themes correspond to those of 1 & 2 Samuel. The rule of God is emphasized.
In the midst of the chaos of human history the government of God, based on absolute moral values. The 10 commandments are not given as advice without obligation, but as rules of life. Whoever ignores this, as well as a person, does so to his own misfortune. Passing by when the poor of the land are wronged is asking for trouble with God. He will condemn. The kingdoms of Judah and Israel bear witness to this. The emphasis is also on God's care for His people.
He always sends prophets to bring the people back to Him. Why should you die, house of Israel? (Ezekiel 18:31; 33:11). GOD asks again and again.
The tragedy was that all this suffering was unnecessary. Sin stood between GOD and His people, but that did not make the Love of God for His people disappear. However, choosing sin became a choice for death instead of life.
The third theme is the value of ordinary life. Through the ages of the rise and fall of Judah and Israel, life went on as usual. In it the work of God was present. The task for His people, and for us, was to make the most of each day.
1. The Death of David (1:1-2:11),
2. The reign of Solomon (2:12-11:43),
3. The Early History of the Divided Kingdom (12:1-22:53).
1. The two-tribe kingdom until the fall of Israel (1:1-17:41),
2. History of Judah to the Fall (18:1-25:21),
3. Judah under Gedaliah (25:22-30).