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  1 KINGS Daily Bible Readings
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2 SAMUEL | 1 Timothy | 1 KINGS | 2 Timothy | 2 KINGS

DateScripturesDaily devotional commentary
May 1-2: 1 Timothy
May 2:1 Kings 1* Asking for the Promise
May 3:1 Kings 2-3* Solomon's Early Days as King
May 4:1 Kings 4-6* King Solomon's Successes
May 5:1 Kings 7-8:21* Building Houses
May 6:1 Kings 8:22-9:28* Gaining and Losing God's Blessing
May 7:1 Kings 10-11* The Danger of a Sidetracked Heart
May 8:1 Kings 12-14:20* Rehoboam and Jeroboam
May 9:1 Kings 14:21-17:24* 9 Kings and 2 Prophets
May 10:1 Kings 18-20* Sin, Judgement, and Elijah
May 11:1 Kings 21-22* Ahab, Jezebel, and Jehoshaphat
May 12: 2 Timothy

Asking for the Promise
May 2 reading
1 Timothy 6 (C)
1 Kings 1
1 Kings Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* Go To The King,
TorahBytes.org
Extra reading: Psalms 1 - 9
King David was old and couldn't get warm. His servants found a very beautiful virgin Shunammite girl named Abishag who came to take care of David, without intimate relations. Meanwhile Adonijah, David's son with Haggith, realized that his father was not paying any attention to affairs of state or to his sons. (David had never disciplined him nor counseled him on proper behavior, so Adonijah apparently had been raised by his mother.) So Adonijah gathered some men around him including Joab (David's chief army commander) and Abiathar a priest once loyal to David, and declared himself King Adonijah. Adonijah had paid close enough attention to the men who would remain faithful to David, and just didn't invite them to the coronation sacrifice.

Nathan the prophet quickly heard what Adonijah was doing, and started networking. David had made an oath commitment that his and Bathsehba's young son Solomon would be next king of Israel. So first he contacted Bathsheba, instructing her to go to David and what to say to him. While she was speaking with David, Nathan himself came to confirm what Bathsheba was saying. So those still faithful to David were called to proclaim and celebrate King Solomon as David's successor. Part of the ceremony was when Zadok the priest anointed Solomon with oil from the sacred tent.

As soon as he heard about Solomon, Adonijah's guests left quickly and Adonijah himself fled to the horns of the altar for his life. Solomon found out where his older half-brother was, and promised that Adonijah would be safe so long as he displayed no more evil, no more plotting to take the throne. Adonijah paid his respects to the new king, who sent him home.

Solomon's Early Days As King
May 3 reading
1 Kings 2-3
1 Kings Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* City of David shockwave tour
Extra reading: Psalms 10 - 17
INSTRUCTIONS: "So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: 'If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.'" (2:2b-4) King David to King Solomon
When David realized he was dying, he gave his son Solomon the best instructions he knew for the work of being the LORD's anointed king of Israel. Seeming to have had a closer relationship with Solomon than with his older sons, David reminded Solomon that Joab had killed Abner and Amasa in peacetime as though in war. This had not only been a crime to the two dead men, but had also been an assult to David as king. "Do not let his gray head go down to the grave in peace," said David. Apparently David had not had Joab put to death because of Joab's years of faithful service despite his blood thristy assasinations. But Solomon did not share that loyalty to Joab because he had supported Adonijah as king. David asked Solomon to be kind to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead for Barzillai's help when David's son Absolom thought he would grab the kingship from his father. (2 Sam 19:31-39) But David's promise not to kill Shimei - the Benjaminite who had cursed David when Shimei was sure Absolom was the new king - was not binding after David died. Solomon was a man of wisdom, David affirmed, and would know how to bring Shimei's gray head down.

Adonijah came to Bethsheba, one of his step-mothers, with a request. Since Israel had been his (was he delusional???) but the LORD had given it to his brother, Solomon, Adonijah would like Abishag the Shunammite - David's nurse - to be his wife. Bethsheba took his request to the King, who lost not only his respect for his mother because of it, but also his patience with Adonijah. Solomon saw Adonijah's request as a step in a plot to take Solomon's throne. He ordered Benaiah, leader of the king's body guard, to kill Adonijah. For the time being, Solomon spared the life of co-conspirator Abiathar the priest, because of his services to carry the ark of the LORD and sharing hardships with David. But Solomon removed Abiathar as priest, and this fulfilled the LORD's promise to Eli whose descendants would be removed as priests because of his failure to stop the sins of his sons as priests (1 Samuel 3:11-18).

Joab fled to the tent of the LORD, held on to the horns of the altar, and refused Solomon's order through Benaiah to come out, saying he would die in the tent of the LORD. Solomon agreed, and put the guilt of Abner's and Amasa's deaths squarely on Joab and his descendants, with David and his line avenging these deaths. Solomon appointed Benaiah to replace Joab as commander of the army of Israel, and Zadok to replace Abiathar as the chief priest.

For his loyalty to David subsequent to cursing him, Shimei agreed to live and stay in Jerusalem to keep his life. Three years later, he left just for awhile on legitimate business, and forfeited his life.

Solomon and the Pharaoh of Egypt became allies, and Solomon married his daughter who came to live in the City of David, the fortress within Jerusalem. Solomon showed his love for the LORD by living according to the statutes of David, and still offered sacrifices at high places since a temple for the Name fo the LORD hadn't been built yet. One time when Solomon sacrificed at Gibeon, the LORD appeared to him in a dream, asking what Solomon wanted from Him. Solomon wanted help being king of so many people and asked for the gift of discernment for administering justice. The LORD was so pleased with his request that He promised to give Solomon discerning wisdom plus the riches and honor he hadn't asked for - with a conditional gift as well. IF Solomon walked in the LORD's ways and obeyed His statues and commands as David had done, the LORD would also give him long life. When Solomon returned to Jerusalem, he stood before the ark of the LORD and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then all the court feasted with him. One example of the fact that the LORD had granted Solomon judicial wisdom was his ruling about a living infant boy who was contested by two prostitutes. When Solomon called for a sword to cut the baby in half and give both a part, the real mother begged him not to kill the baby but to give him to the other woman.

King Solomon's Successes
May 4 reading
1 Kings 4-6
1 Kings Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* Jerusalem in the First Temple Period , Jerusalem Mosaic
Mount Moriah, Hebrew University
SITUATION: "The LORD gave Solomon wisdom, just as he had promised him. There were peaceful relations between Hiram (King of Tyre in Lebanon) and Solomon, and the two of them made a treaty." (5:12)
In many ways, King Solomon was hugely successful. The land was at peace, and his people ate, drank, and were happy. His administrative skills set up a trusted staff that governed all Israel plus all the other kingdoms from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines and on to the border of Egypt. All twelve tribes and the other local kingdoms supplied the king with great wealth and tribute. Solomon's fame as a wise consultant spread, and both Jews and gentiles came to hear his teachings. He taught with proverbs and, like his father, was the hit song writer of his time.

Solomon determined to build a temple for the Name of the LORD his God. He made arrangements with King Hiram both to buy the high quality cedars of Lebanon and to hire his skilled Sidonian lumbermen. Then Solomon conscripted forced labor to work with the lumbermen, to deliver the cedar to Jerusalem, and other forced laborers to quarry large blocks of quality stone for the foundation of the temple.

All seemed ideal for Israel under King Solomon. Four years into his reign, Solomon started building the temple of the LORD and followed instructions the LORD had given Moses centuries before. In fact, Solomon began work on the temple 480 years after the Israelites had come out of Egypt. It took 7 years to complete the temple.

The web page King Solomon (970-928 BCE) from the Hebrew University gives a short overview of his reign and leadership, plus an inherent moral problem with success in such a diverse culture.

Building Houses
May 5 reading
1 Kings 7-8:21
1 Kings Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* The Temple, US-Israel.org
BLESSING: "Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who with his own hand has fulfilled what he promised with his own mouth to my father David." (8:15) Solomon, blessing his people
After Solomon had supervised the building of the temple, he spent 13 years completing the construction of his palace with cedar and pine. It was called the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon. The throne hall was the Hall of Justice where he would hear court cases. Another hall like this was built for Solomon's wife, the Pharaoh's daughter.

Solomon also commissioned Huram from Tyre who was a skilled craftsman in burnished bronze. His assignments were specific items for the temple. Solomon also commissioned gold items for the temple. David had dedicated things for the temple and Solomon brought them into the temple as well.

Finally Solomon summoned the elders of Israel at the festival during the Feast of Tabernacles and they witnessed the priests bringing the ark of the LORD's covenant, the Tent of Meeting, and all the sacred furnishing in it up to the new temple. So many sheep and cattle were sacrificed at that event, they couldn't be counted. The carved cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and overshadowed it and its carrying poles. By now all that was in the ark were the two stone tablets Moses had put there at Horeb. As the priests left, the cloud and the glory of the LORD filled his temple, and Solomon blessed his people, telling the story his father David had told him. The LORD had said to David, "Because it was in your heart to build a temple for my Name, you did well to have this in your heart. Nevertheless, you are not the one to build the temple, but your son who is your own flesh and blood - he is the one who will build the temple for my Name." The LORD had kept his promise.

Gaining and Losing God's Blessing
May 6 reading
1 Kings 8:22-9:28
1 Kings Commentary
Dictionary and Books
* Jesus in the Life Of Solomon, JesusPlusNothing.com
Solomon's Gold from Ophir, Bible-History.com
BLESSING: "O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below - you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way." (8:23) Solomon, praying to the LORD our God at the dedication of the first temple in Jerusalem
Ruth-like, I follow King Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the Temple he build for worshiping the Lord God in Jerusalem, gleaning truth and wisdom from his worship and insight.
* There is no God like the LORD our GOD in heaven above or on earth below.
* The LORD keeps His covenant of love with His servants so long as they continue wholeheartedly in His way.
* The LORD's promises for protection depend upon our being careful to walk before the LORD as Solomon did.
* Even though all the heavens cannot contain the LORD GOD, Solomon's temple would be a focal point for the LORD to watch, day and night.
* The LORD's Name would be at the Temple, listening and hearing supplications of His people Israel and their King, when they pray toward it.
* The Temple would be a focal point for truth and justice, guilt and innocence.
* When Israel is defeated by an enemy for sinning against the LORD, and they turn back to Him praying and confessing His Name in this Temple, let the LORD hear and bring them back to the land.
* When the LORD afflicts Israel with drought because the people have sinned against Him, when they pray toward the temple, confess the LORD's Name, and turn from their sin, let the LORD hear them, teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land.
* When the LORD afflicts Israel with disaster or disease and any of the LORD's people pray to Him with awareness of the afflictions of his own heart, and spreads his hands toward the temple, let the LORD hear from His dwelling place in heaven, forgive, and deal with him according to his heart.
* The LORD alone knows the hearts of all men. Let the LORD deal with each person according to all he does, knowing his heart. Let men always fear this awesome power of the LORD, and act accordingly.
* The power and the Name of the LORD will attract Gentiles from far away places, and they will come and pray toward this temple. Let the LORD hear from heaven and answer the foreigner's prayer so all people of the earth will know the LORD's Name, fear Him, and know that the temple bears His Name.
* When the LORD's people are at war against enemies, wherever the LORD sends them, and the people pray toward Jerusalem and the temple for His Name, let the LORD hear and uphold their cause.
* When the LORD's people sin - for there is no one who doesn't sin - and the LORD becomes angry and gives them over to the enemy who takes them away captive, and the people -
  • repent,
  • confess their sin to the LORD,
  • turn back to Him with all their heart and soul,
  • and pray toward Israel, Jerusalem, and the temple of the Name
  • then let the LORD hear from heaven, uphold their cause, forgive His people's offenses, and cause their conquerors to show them mercy.
    * Israel remains the LORD's people and His inheritance because the LORD singled them out from all nations of the world.

    The LORD had kept His promise. Solomon and his people were at rest from war, and Solomon requested many blessings from Him to the people of Israel according to each day's need. Solomon reminded the people that their reliance on the LORD would let all people of the earth know that only the LORD is God so they also would obey him and live according to His way, not their own. Co-operation was required.

    After the dedication prayers, sacrifices, and feasting was completed, the LORD appeared a second time to Solomon. The LORD promised His part, but emphasized the conditional requirements. IF Solomon kept his integrity of heart and uprightness, and if he and his sons did not turn away to go worship other gods, the LORD's promises would stand. If not, disaster would come, and Israel would be ridiculed and appalling for forsaking the LORD their God.

    King Solomon continued good relations with King Hiram of Tyre and the Pharoah of Egypt. The various native Canaanite people groups who survived extermination were forced into slave labor. Solomon's wife is mentioned but still unnamed, just "the Pharaoh's daughter". Solomon fulfilled the basic temple obligations, and built a navy with King Hiram's sailors along with King Solomon's men for extending trade to Ophir.

    The Danger of a Sidetracked Heart
    May 7 reading
    1 Kings 10-11
    1 Kings Commentary
    Dictionary and Books
    * King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, AfricanChristianity.com
    Biography of Solomon, US-Israel.org
    PROMISE: "I will humble David's descendants because of this, but not forever." (11:39) The LORD speaking through Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh, to Jeroboam the Ephraimite from Zeredah [The Messiah was still coming.]
    The LORD's gift of wisdom to Solomon had been a good thing, used for Israeli education, justice, economics, international trade and treaties, and even entertainment. But I wonder if King Solomon started worshiping wisdom rather than worshiping the LORD. It would take special strength of character for anyone so wise and smart as Solomon not to let the resulting popularity go to his head. There is no indication that Solomon was nerd-smart, but the commercial that marries brains with beauty comes to mind. And with his wealth, was Solomon the Bill Gates of his day?

    We find out in chapter 12 that Solomon's character had the same weakness for beautiful and/or powerful women as his father's had. What's more, Solomon attracted women. Apparently the custom then was for treaties to be sealed with the marriage of a king's daughter to another country's king, so some women came to Solomon through the politics of their fathers. Others came to him for answers. When the Queen of Sheeba came to ask Solomon things she had never been able to understand, he cleared up her questions and answered her tests. She was sure Solomon and his men's happiness had to be in direct porportion to his wisdom and wealth. The Queen of Sheeba acknowledged the power and love of the LORD, but as Solomon's God, not hers.

    Did rulers and their emissaries come to Israel, look around, and respond with some greed and envy that the country under Solomon had so much splender, trade, wealth, activity, employment, excitement? Maybe, but that wasn't King Solomon's downfall. He loved and married many women. But for all his wisdom, he couldn't figure out a way to convert his wives to the LORD God. The only way he found to please all of his wives was to build them temples for worshiping the way they were brought up. By the later years of his 40 year reign, Solomon was publicly joining his wives in their worship. His heart toward the LORD God changed, and the LORD grew increasingly angry with King Solomon until He revealed that the kingdom would be divided.

    Hadad of Edom had survived Joab's earlier attack on Edom when Joab's men thought they had killed all Edomites. He was exiled in Egypt. Rezon of Zobah had survived David's attack on Zobah, and lived in Damascus and Aram. As these two forces started opposing Solomon, Ahijah the Israeli prophet of Shiloh got word from the LORD to give to Jeroboam the Ephraimite, that the LORD would tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hand. Ten tribes would go to Jeroboam. The same condition applied to Jeroboam that IF he obeyed the LORD, the LORD would be with him. Jeroboam fled to Egypt. Eventually Solomon died, and his son Rehoboam became king.

    Rehoboam and Jeroboam
    May 8 reading
    1 Kings 12-14:20
    1 Kings Commentary
    Dictionary and Books
    * Rehoboam, Wikipedia.org
    Jeroboam, JewishEncyclopedia.com
    PROMISE: "O altar, altar. This is what the LORD says: 'A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who now make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you." (13:2b)
    When Jeroboam heard that Solomon was dead, he returned from exile in Egypt to Israel. The Israelites had made Rehoboam king at Shechem, but when they heard that Jeroboam was back, the elders of Israel called for him. During Solomon's reign, Jeroboam, an Ephraimite, had been in charge of the labor force of the house of Joseph, and the prophet Ahijah had told him the LORD's word - because of Solomon's hardened heart, the LORD would eventually give Jeroboam 10 tribes of the kingdom. Now the people wanted assurances from King Rehoboam that he would lighten the harsh labor requirements. The king postponed his answer for three days.

    King Rehoboam neither had his father's wisdom nor his early relationship with the LORD. Rehoboam must have lived through the time Solomon changed his heart toward the LORD. When Rehoboam asked the elders who had served Solomon what they advised, they said he should serve the people and lighten their load. After all, Rehoboam had inherited an exceedingly wealthy kingdom. But Rehoboam didn't like this plan and asked the young men he had grown up with what they thought. They gave the answer he preferred - make the people work even harder for the kingdom. Bad choice? Actually, the Scripture says "the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the LORD, to fulfill the word the LORD had spoken to Jeroboam".

    When Rehoboam told the people his decision, they went home planning rebellion.

    9 Kings and 2 Prophets
    May 9 reading
    1 Kings 14:21-17:24
    1 Kings Commentary
    Dictionary and Books
    * Shishak, knowledge.co.uk
    Shishak not Shoshenq!, biblemysteries.com
    PROMISE: "For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.'" (17:14)
    "Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly (as though his life depended upon it) that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years." (James 5:17)
    Kings of Judah, following Solomon
    Name
    Father
    Mother
    ReignedEvents, Tragedies
    Rehoboam
    * Solomon
    * Naamah,
    an Ammonite
    17 years
    age 41-58
    * moved further away from following the LORD
    * 5th year: Shishak of Egypt looted temple and palace - Jerusalem
    * made bronze shields to replace gold ones - used for protection when going to temple
    * continual war with Jeroboam
    Abijah
    * Rehoboam
    * Maacah
    dau of Abishalom
    3 years
    from Jeroboam's
    18th-21st years
    * his heart was not fully given to the LORD
    * the LORD honored Abijah's g-g-grandfather David by giving Abijah a son and making Jerusalem strong.
    * War continued with Jeroboam during his 3 year reign
    Asa
    * Abijah
    * unknown
    41 years
    Began during the 20th year of Jeroboam's reign
    * Did right in the LORD's eyes
    * eliminated idols, male shrine prostitutes
    * deposed his grandmother and her Asheriah pole
    * fought Baasha king of Israel
    * paid Ben-Hadad of Aram in Damascus to break treaty with Baasha
    * Baasha retreated leaving building supplies which Asa used
    Kings of Israel, following Solomon
    Jeroboam
    * Nebat
    * widow of Zereda
    22 years
    B.C. 976-945
    * In his tribe of Ephraim, Jeroboam worked for King Solomon
    * Ahijah the prophet told him God would establish a kingdom for him as that of David. (1 Kings 11:29-40)
    * Rather than letting his people worship at Jerusalem, he set up altars at Dan and at Bethel.
    Nadab
    * Jeroboam
    * ?
    2 years
    from Asa's 2nd year
    * evil doer just as his father was
    * made other gods to trust and worship
    * provoked the LORD to anger
    * thrust the LORD behind his back
    Baasha
    * Ahijah, house of Issachar
    * ?
    24 years in Tirzah
    killed Nadab for throne
    in Asa's 3rd to 26th year
    * murdered all of Jeroboam's family
    * war continued between Asa and Baasha
    The word of the LORD came to the prophet Jehu, son of Hanani, to warn Baasha. For provoking the LORD to anger, leading His people Israel to sin, and becoming like the house of Jeroboam, the house of Baasha would be destroyed.
    Elah
    * Baasha
    * ?
    2 years in Tirzah
    from Asa's 26th to 27th years
    * sinned as his father did
    * murdered by Zimri, one of his chariot commanders
    Zimri
    * ?
    * ?
    7 days in Tirzah
    in Asa's 27th year
    * murdered Elah and all the rest of Baasha's family for their sins
    * burned himself to death with the palace as Omri overtook Tirzah
    4 years went by while supporters of Tibni and Omri fought for one to be king. Half of Israel supported Tibni as king, but finally army commander Omri's forces killed Tibni
    Omri
    * ?
    * ?
    12 years (6 in Tirzah, 6 in Samaria)
    from Asa's 31st year
    (to 43rd year)
    * bought the hill of Samaria and built city of Samaria
    * sinned more than previous kings
    Ahab
    * Omri
    * ?
    22 years in Samaria
    from Asa's 38th year
    (Asa reigned 41 years)
    * exceeded sins of previous kings
    * married Jezebel, daughter of king of the Sidonians
    * Ahab and Jezebel served and worshiped Baal
    * Ahab had Jericho rebuilt despite Joshua's curse (Jos 6:26)
    The word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite to warn Ahab of a severe drought coming.

    In the midst of years and years of evil in Israel, here is Elijah, a prophet of the LORD, God of Israel. Elijah obeyed the LORD - whether speaking what He told Elijah to say or going where the LORD told him to go. After leaving Ahab's court, Elijah stayed at the Kerith Ravine east of the Jordan for awhile, fed by ravens. When the brook there dried up from the drought, he was told to go to a city in Sidon where the LORD had commanded a widow at Zarephath to supply Elijah with food. But the widow didn't know the LORD had plans for her, and was planning a last meal for herself and her son before starving to death. Elijah told her the LORD's promise (see above), then told her what to do, and she obeyed. The LORD continued to supply more flour and oil for them to have food throughout the drought. Elijah had been in the house some time when the widow's son died. Was this to remind her of her sin? No, Elijah took the boy's body to the upper room, and prayed to the LORD to let the boy's life return. The boy came back to life, and the widow knew the word of the LORD from Elijah's mouth was the truth.

    Sin, Judgement, and Elijah
    May 10 reading
    1 Kings 18-20
    1 Kings Commentary
    Dictionary and Books
    * Baal, Encyclopedia Mythica * Elijah, Crump
    * Interview with Elijah, Chabad.org
    CHOICE: "Elijah went before the people and said, 'How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.'" (18:21)
    During the third year of the drought, Elijah heard the word of the LORD telling him to leave the seclusion of the Zarephath upper room in Sidon, go back to Israel, and present himself to King Ahab. During Elijah's absence, Ahab and his wife Jezebel had failed to find Elijah, but Jezebel had taken it upon herself to kill as many prophets as she could find in Israel. The royal couple made sure the blame for the severe drought had been placed squarely upon the LORD God for whom Elijah spoke. This way, the drought hadn't shaken their faith in Baal, who they worshipped for increased sexual and agricultural fertility. Baal was the Viagra of Canaan, and for all who entrusted their lives and success to him, Elijah's drought was seen as an enemy, not a judgement call to fear and follow the LORD God of Israel. This was war.

    As often happens, there was an undercover believer among Ahab's palace staff. Obadiah devoutly believed in the LORD, and had organized an underground resistance - hiding and saving the lives of 50 prophets each in 2 caves, and supplying them with food and water. Obadiah was on a special mission for Ahab when he spotted Elijah. Fearful that the Spirit of the LORD might hide Elijah again, Obadiah didn't want to tell Ahab that Elijah was back in Israel. Past experience showed that Ahab would kill Obadiah if he took that message and Elijah couldn't be found. Ahab wasn't playing around.

    Neither was Elijah. When he met with Ahab, Elijah rejected the idea that HE was the troubler of Israel. Ahab's guilt was abandoning the LORD's commands in favor of following the Baals. The judgement by drought given to Elijah to speak into existence had been the LORD's way to get everyone's attention. Now Elijah was calling for a face off between himself - representing the LORD of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel - virsus the 450 prophets of Baal plus Jezebel's 400 prophets of Asherah. The prophets of the true LORD had become outlaws, and Elijah was the only publicly acknowledged prophet left in Israel. He would represent the LORD alone.

    Elijah's question to the people of Israel, "How long will you waver between two opinions" continues to challenge belief today. Is strength in numbers or in truth? Is truth in popular opinion and peer pressure or in scripture? Does life focus on your success or the LORD's? Will you be faithful or promiscuous? Is the LORD silent or does He speak? Do you recognize the LORD when he speaks? Does any of this matter?

    The test began. The prophets of Baal prepared their bull sacrifice and began calling on Baal for fire. By noon, Elijah was mocking the prophets' frenzied prophesying to Baal. No response, no answer, no fire. By evening both the Baal's silence and the prophets' calling was deafening.

    After a long day, it was finally time for the evening sacrifice. The LORD God and Elijah's turn. Drenching the wood and bull sacrifice with water, Elijah prayed aloud - 1 Kings 18:36-37 - acknowledging and obeying the LORD, and asking that the LORD would turn the people's hearts back to Him again. The fire fell. The people fell. The prophets of Baal were seized and slaughtered in the Kishon Valley. Shaken, Ahab ate and drank. Elijah's servant reported on the sky. Elijah prayed for rain. The LORD sent a heavy rain and empowered Elijah to run on to Jezreel, even ahead of Ahab in his chariot.

    What followed was not the return to the LORD that Elijah had hoped. Jezebel vowed to have him killed. Going from explicit instructions from the LORD at Mount Carmel, Elijah's life had returned to normal. The LORD's power had not changed Jezebel. If anything, the execution of her prophets had made her hatred of the LORD (and Elijah) with her lust for evil even stronger. So Elijah literally ran for his life, south to Beersheba where he discharged his servant, and into the Desert of Zin where, exhausted, he prayed, "I have had enough, LORD." Sleeping and being fed by the angel of the LORD for the journey, Elijah traveled 40 days/40 nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.

    "What are you doing here, Elijah?" the word of the LORD asked first. Elijah stated his case. Instructions followed, plus the LORD was about to pass by. Before Elijah could obey, a powerful wind shattered the rocks of the mountain, an earthquake shook it, a fire broke out, and there was a whisper and a voice. Elijah heard the LORD's voice in the whisper, and obeyed the earlier instructions. This time the voice asked, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" Elijah repeated the account of his rejection by Israel even with all his best efforts, all his zealousness for the LORD.

    The LORD gave Elijah 3 more things to do, and assured him that he was not the only believer left in Israel. Elijah took the 3rd assignment first, to anoint Elisha to succeed him as prophet.

    The rest of today's reading deals with Ahab trying to appease Ben-Hadad king of Aram. The LORD sent a military advisor prophet to instruct Ahab how to battle with Ben-Hadad, Ahab obeys, and the small Israeli army has tremendous victories. Israel's enemies don't always have accurate information on them, especially about the LORD. Following the victory, Ahab made a treaty with Ben-Hadad, rather than kill him. The LORD sent Ahab word of His displeasure about a treaty rather than justice, and Ahab's anger increased. The way a prophet was to give Ahab the message shows obeying is more important than understanding why. (20:35-36)

    Ahab, Jezebel, and Jehoshaphat
    May 11 reading
    1 Kings 21-22
    1 Kings Commentary
    Dictionary and Books
    * Sackcloth and Ahab, McWilliams
    * Jezebel, Latter-rain.com
    * Pay Day Someday, Lee

    VISION: "I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And the LORD said, 'Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?'" (22:19b-20)
    Apparently by Ahab's reign, kings of the northern kingdom married only one wife. But Ahab married Jezebel, a princess of Tyre, who hated the LORD of Israel and anyone who followed and worshiped Him. Jezebel was an extremely strong willed woman, and had no habit of asking permission for an audience with her husband the king. In today's reading, Jezebel finds her husband sullen and angry again, and arranges for the death of Naboth who had refused Ahab's request to give him the vineyard on Naboth's ancestors' land. The LORD sent Elijah to confront Ahab in his new vineyard. Whether Ahab only recognized Elijah as his enemy or both Elijah and the LORD I'm not sure, but upon hearing the LORD's judgement cutting off his house from Israel, Ahab put on sackcloth and fasted. When the LORD saw Ahab humbling himself, He postponed the total destruction of his descendants until his son's reign.

    About three years later, Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, went down from Jerusalem to see Ahab, king of Israel in Samaria. They discussed the land of Ramoth Gilead that had been Israel's but now Aram (Damascus) occupied. In agreeing to join together against Aram, Jehoshaphat insisted they seek the counsel of the LORD. Ahab called about 400 prophets, who prophecied success. Jehoshaphat asked for a prophet of the LORD instead, but Ahab didn't like this because this prophet, Micaiah son of Imlah, never prophesied anything in Ahab's favor. When Micaiah arrived, all the other prophets were adamantly predicting Ahab's success. Micaiah's first message agrees with them. Ahab is not convinced he is speaking the LORD's message. So then Macaiah tells the vision of shepherdless sheep scattered on the hills, and the vision of the LORD asking for someone to entice Ahab to go to his death at Ramoth Gilead. Of all the host of heaven making suggestions, finally one spirit answered the LORD and promised to be a lying spirit in the mouths of all Ahab's prophets. From His throne, the LORD agreed and sent the spirit to work the plan.

    The prophet Zedekiah, son of Kenaanah slapped Micaiah's face. "Which way did the spirit from the LORD go when he went from me to speak to you?" Zedekiah scoffed. Micaiah prophesied that Zedekiah would know the day he hides in an inner room. Ahab had Macaiah sent to jail with bread and water until Ahab's return. "If you ever return safely, the LORD has not spoken through me."

    Ahab wasn't convinced Micaiah's prediction was from the LORD. Who could actually see a scene like that in heaven, and did the LORD take advice like that? But just to be sure, Ahab decided to fight in disguise. It started out as a good plan, because the king of Aram ordered his men to only fight against Ahab. When they realized Jehoshaphat wasn't Ahab, the armies fought each other. A random arrow hit the disguised king between the sections of his armor, and his chariot driver moved him where he could watch Israel and Judah fight the Arameans. Propped up in his chariot, by evening Ahab had bled to death. Sure enough, after Ahab was buried and his men were cleaning up the blood in his chariot at a pool in Samaria where the prostitutes bathed, the dogs licked up his blood as the LORD had foretold through Elijah.

    Ahab's son Ahaziah succeeded him in the 17th year of the reign of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. Ahaziah reigned only 2 years in Israel and followed the evil ways of his father, his mother, and King Jeroboam son of Nebat who caused Israel to sin.

    Jehoshaphat, son of King Asa and Azubah (daughter of Shilhi), had become king of Judah in the 4th year of Ahab's reign in Israel. Jehoshaphat was 35 when he began his reign, and 60 when he died, ruling 25 years. As his father Asa, he did right in the eyes of the LORD and eliminated the male shrine prostitutes. On the other hand he didn't remove the high places, and people still sacrificed there. Judah and Israel were at peace during his reign, and there was no king in Edom - only a deputy ruling. There is no mention of Jehoshaphat "jumping", but he did build a fleet of trading ships as Solomon had had. However his fleet were wrecked before they sailed, and he had already declined Ahaziah's request for the men of Israel to sail with Judah. Jehoshaphat's son Jehoram succeeded him.

    Tomorrow's Reading: 2 Timothy 1-4 with Devotions

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