Sins of Kings in 1 Kings
Various Passages 

By Paul Robison

What is sin?  Someone gave this interesting answer: "Man calls sin an accident, but God calls it an abomination.  Man calls sin a defect, but God calls it a disease.  Man calls sin an error, but God calls it an enmity.  Man calls sin liberty, but God calls it lawlessness.  Man calls sin a trifle, but God calls it a tragedy” (Moody Monthly).  A psychologist one wrote a book about 50 years ago entitled: Whatever Happened to Sin? (Menninger).  He argued in this book that our culture has tried to avoid sins by giving them different names; he had anticipated the politically correct movement by about 20 years.  He also sustained that we acted in this way because nobody wanted to take responsibility for their sinful behaviors.  So we've tried to pass off our sins on society or others so that "I'm OK, and you're OK; yes, we're all OK, and nobody is a sinner anymore."  We like to trivialize and minimize our sins, but the Bible and Christ won't allow us to get away with such conduct.  It's interesting that the pages of Scripture not only reveal people's good behaviors, but it also shows their worst behaviors.  And then it often reveals the tragic and far-reaching consequences of their sins too!

One book that shows sins very clearly is 1 Kings.  Let's look at some background materials.  In the Hebrew Bible, the books of 1 and 2 Kings were all one document.  A similar book to that of Kings is that of Chronicles, but Chronicles is written from the viewpoint of a priest while Kings is written from the viewpoint of a prophet (EOT).  Jewish tradition says that Jeremiah is the author, and he would be a very good candidate except for two difficulties.  First of all, he was carried into captivity by the Jews who moved to Egypt , but the last part of this book talks about events that happened in Babylon .  In fact, let's notice something here.  Turn to 2 King 24:18: "Zedekiah was 21 years old when he became king, and he reigned 11 years in Jerusalem ."

Now flip to the last verse of 2 Kings: "And as for his provisions, there was a regular ration given him by the king, a portion for each day, all the days of his life."  Now turn to Jeremiah 52, and you'll notice that the first and last verses of that chapter are the very same as what we've just read in 2 Kings!  The king mentioned in both passages is King Jehoiachin, and the year is 560 B.C.  Here’s the second difficulty.  Now since we know that Jeremiah began his work as a prophet in 626 BC, this means that he would have been 86 if he began his work as a prophet at age 20.  Now that's not an impossible age, but Baruch, Jeremiah's younger scribe, might be a better candidate as writer of the last chapters in both books.  Since Baruch was Jeremiah's disciple, this would explain why the Jews continued to see all of 1 Kings as the work of Jeremiah.  So Jeremiah may have written much of it, and Baruch then made further additions.  This would put the writing of the book around 550 B.C.

The purpose of the book is very clear.  "Kings demonstrates how it was that God destroys His own people and sends them into exile" (Bimson).

This is in accordance with what God had said back around 800 years earlier in the book of Deuteronomy.  In that book, God promised blessings for obedience and threatened punishment for disobedience.

This book shows exactly how those promises and threats became realities.  "God blesses the king and nation when they keep the covenant.  God's judgment falls with inevitable certainty upon those who disobey His law" (Bible Almanac).  Here are two pretty good outlines: one is based on major characters and one is based on what happens to Israel :

The story of Solomon (1-11)
The story of Jereboam (12-16)
The story of Elijah (17-19)
The story of Ahab (20-22)

or we also see:

The kingdom protected (1-2)
The kingdom enriched (3-10)
The kingdom divided (11-14)
The kingdom destroyed (15-22).

Someone made this observation: "At the end, we are left with the depressing conclusion that disaster was inevitable, given that [nobody] (and therefore no king) is sinless (1 Kings 8:46) (Bimson)."

This is the subject of our lesson today.  Since the Scriptures clearly reveal the sins of others, let's learn from their sins, so that we can avoid them.  The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that much in the Old Testament "was written for our admonition."  Today we want to focus on the sins of the major kings in 1 Kings.

The first king was Solomon, and his sin was compromise.  Let's read 11:1-8: "But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites—from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, 'You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you.  
Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.' Solomon clung to these in love.  And he had 700 wives, and 300 concubines; and his wives turned away his heart.  For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.  For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not fully follow the Lord, as did his father David.
 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab , on the hill that is east of Jerusalem , and for Molech the abomination of the people of Ammon.

And he did likewise for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods."
  Solomon was not only a womanizer, but he was also a compromiser.  He compromised his wisdom, his walk with God, his worship, and his people's welfare.  Solomon had been given much wisdom by God Himself, but notice that he failed to heed and to follow God's word.  The messages were very clear: the Jews were not to marry pagan women, and kings were commanded not to have many wives (Deut. 7:3-4 & 17:17)!  Now it was customary in that time for kings to marry foreign women in order to maintain peace with others nations.  For whatever reason, Solomon married many wives; he compromised God's wisdom and did not obey His Word.  Have you ever tried to rationalize some clear command in God's Word to suit your own desires?  Then we see how Solomon compromised his walk with God.  Brothers, we might fantasize that having the sexual life of Solomon would be paradise on earth, but our text sets the record straight and says it was damnation because such pleasure caused Solomon to compromise his walk with God—his wives turned away his heart after other gods!  Don't let adultery cause you to compromise your walk with God!  The apostle Paul tells to us to glorify God in our bodies and spirits, which really belong to Him if we are His children (1 Cor. 6:19-20)!  And when Solomon's wives began begging to worship at “the shrine of their choice”, Solomon began erecting high places with idols all around Jerusalem , and he too went after those pagan gods with all their wicked practices, which compromised his worship to the living God.  What a terrible and wicked example Solomon was setting before all the Israelites!   But that's the nature of compromise: at first, we give up just a little, and then we rationalize, and give up a little more, and then our addiction grows, and before too long, we have been completely thrown off course!  Don't be a compromiser like Solomon was!

The next king ruled in Israel after the kingdom split in 930 B.C., and his name was Jeroboam. 
His sin was apostasy or a complete abandonment of trying to be obedient to God's commands, especially for expediency's sake.  Let's note what is said about him in 12:25-31 because his apostasy was a plague on Israel until God allowed the kingdom to fall in 722 B.C.: "Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the mountains of Ephraim, and dwelt there.  Also he went out from there and built Penuel.  Now Jeroboam said in his heart, 'Now the kingdom may return to the house of David: if these people go to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn back to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and go back to Rehoboam king of Judah.'  Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, 'It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.  Here are your gods, O Israel , which brought you up from the land of Egypt !'  And he set up one in Bethel , and he put the other in Dan.  Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan.  He made shrines on the high places, and made priests from every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi."  Jeroboam was worried that his subjects would return to Judah when they went to worship at the temple in Jerusalem .  He had to find a way to keep this from happening or they might eventually rebel against him.  So Jeroboam is not interested in doing God's will, but in saving his kingdom (which God had given to him in the first place).  Notice that the text says that he sought advice.  Whoever his advisors were, they were very clever, but they weren't very spiritual.  As a result of their advice, we see that Jeroboam makes two golden calves.  Now where have we heard of a golden calf before?  Remember the one that Aaron made out in the wilderness in Exodus 32?  This is the old calf worship from Egypt being resurrected once again!  In fact, Jeroboam's words in verse 28 are almost the exact same words as those of Aaron in Exodus 32:4!  The city of Dan was about as far north in Israel as one could travel, and the city of Bethel was about as far south as one could travel.  "O my people, you need not go on such a long a trip; worshipping these gods will be so much more convenient!  Shrines on high places means that there would be ritual public sex for all to see and engage in, which was against God's holy nature, and the priests appointed were not Levites, which went against God’s Word!  The living and true God of Israel and His pattern for worship were being completely abandoned; this is blatant apostasy!  This sin is mentioned over and over again in the book of 1 Kings, and no Israelite king had the courage to tear down this pagan worship because they also saw that Jeroboam's wicked solution for keeping the people loyal to Israel worked to their favor as well!  How much apostasy is going on in worship services today where God's will is being totally ignored, and church leaders have opted instead to accommodate their worship services to whatever our American culture craves?  Expediency can be a very strong temptation for apostasy.  Like Jesus, let's remember to respond when tempted, "It is written ..."  Jeroboam's great sin was apostasy.  Let's not let it become ours as well!

While Jeroboam ruled in Israel , Rehoboam ruled in Judah .  
His sin was permissiveness.  Let's read 14:21-24: "And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah .  Rehoboam was 41 years old when he became king. He reigned 17 years in Jerusalem , the city which the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel , to put His name there.

His mother's name was Naamah, an Ammonitess.
 Now Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done.

For they also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree.
 And there were also perverted persons in the land.  They did according to the abomination of the nations which the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel ."  What a sad picture of Judah !  Here we see the whirlwind that was reaped from Solomon's sinful actions to accommodate his pagan wives.  Now the people were busy building high places, sacred pillars, and wooden images (all of these objects were associated with sexual obscenity).  "Perverted persons" is a reference to those who practiced sodomy and prostitution in religious rituals.  The text tells us that the Jews were acting just as wretched as the pagan nations which had once inhabited the land.  Question: So what did King Rehoboam do about all this?  Answer: Absolutely nothing!  His sin was permissiveness.  There were gods of all kinds, and shrines of all kinds, and perverted practices of all kinds; yes, they had religious diversity, but it was all "evil in the sight of the Lord" says our text!  King Rehoboam let evil triumph.  Someone made this good remark: "Courage is like a muscle. The more we exercise it, the stronger it gets.  I sometimes worry that our collective courage is growing weaker from disuse.  We don't demand it from our leaders, and our leaders don't demand it from us.  The courage deficit is both our problem and our fault (McCain in Larson/Elshof).  It's so easy to do nothing.  "Just go with the flow" must be one of Satan's sweetest lullabies.  Let's not be permissive, like Rehoboam!  Let's go against the grain, and courageously take a stand together against the evils within our own culture!

The next ruler in Judah was Asa, and his sin was materialism.

Let's read 15:16-22: "Now there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days. And Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah , and built Ramah, that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah .  
Then Asa took all the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries of the house of the Lord and the treasuries of the king's house, and delivered them into the hand of his servants.  And King Asa sent them to Ben-Hadad the son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, king of Syria, who dwelt in Damascus, saying, 'Let there be a treaty between you and me, as there was between my father and your father.  See, I have sent you a present of silver and gold.  Come and break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel , so that he will withdraw from me.'  So Ben-Hadad heeded King Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cites of Israel .  He attacked Ijon, Dan, Abel Beth Maachah, and all Chinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali . Now it happened, when Baasha heard it, that he stopped building Ramah, and remained in Tirzah.  Then King Asa made a proclamation throughout all Judah ; none was exempted.  And they took away the stones and timber of Ramah, which Baasha had used for building; and with them King Asa built Geba in Benjamin, and Mizpah."  Now we see that the Jews are fighting one another! Incredible!  King Baasha fortifies the city of Ramah, which is on a major road way before entering Judah so that the Israelites will not defect to King Asa.  Asa relies on his wealth, even robbing the temple, to pay off the King of Syria to fight against King Baasha.  The Syrian king attacks several northern cities in Israel , so King Baasha has to abandon fortifying Ramah.  Then King Asa orders all the Jew to come to Ramah and carry off its building materials, and with those same materials King Asa fortifies two cities in Judah .  For the most part, Asa was a good king, but where do we see God in all these actions?  King Asa is trying to strengthen his kingdom through making himself strong forts; he is not trusting in the Lord at all.  How often do you take matters into your own hands and fail to trust in God for His help and guidance?  One general in Operation Desert Storm tells how General Schwarzkopf ordered 80,000 Marines to move from one support base which supplied the needed 100,000 gallons of water per day to another support base about 80 miles away in order to outflank the Iraqi army.  This was a brilliant move, but the problem was no water was found at the new support base.  They asked Saudi officials, Kuwati officials, and Bedouin nomads if they knew where water was. "No," was always the reply.  For 14 days, engineers had been digging the area to find water.  During those days, this general had also been praying every morning at 7:15, his devotional time, that water would be found.  As he exited the chapel the day before the attack on Kuwait City , a colonel told the general to come with him.  They went about a mile down a road and then 20 yards off the road was an abandoned water tower that had been used at one time to fill trains.

The general asked an engineer to test the water's flow; later he reported that it would provide 100,000 gallons a day (Krulak in Larson/Elshof)!  Let's trust in God, and not in our material goods nor in our own strength!

Omri became king in Israel .  Listen to his story in 16:23-26: "In the 31
st year of Asa king of Judah , Omri became king over Israel , and reigned 12 years. Six years he reigned in Tirzah.  And he bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver; then he built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, Samaria , after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill.  Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all who were before him.  For he walked in all the ways of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin, provoking the Lord God of Israel to anger with their idols."  Omri did evil, being worse than all his predecessors, and he continued to promote the apostasy that Jeroboam had initiated.

God's holiness was not upheld, but all the perversion and obscenity that went with pagan worship was fostered and promoted.  His sin was secularism.  Secularism means living as if God doesn’t exit, and that's exactly what Omri and the Israelites were doing.  And it's exactly what many Americans are doing as well.  Here's just a very small example:

There's a website called ChristmasTreeForMe.com, where they will sell you two kinds of upside down Christmas trees for about $500.

Why an upside down Christmas tree?  Is there some religious significance to this?  The reason—this allows more room for more presents!  It's not more holiness were after; it's simply more greed!  You see, it’s living as if God doesn’t exist.  
"Be holy because I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15-16) has been just about totally abandoned by our culture!  Let's be careful we're not guilty of the sin of secularism!

Omri's son, Ahab, then becomes Israel 's king.  Let's read about him in 21:20-26: "So Ahab said to Elijah, 'Have you found me, O my enemy?'
And he answered, 'I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord: 'Behold, I will bring calamity on you.  I will take away your posterity, and will cut off from Ahab every male in Israel , both bond and free.  I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, because of the provocation with which you have provoked Me to anger, and made Israel sin.'  And concerning Jezebel [Ahab’s pagan wife] the Lord also spoke, saying, 'The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.'  The dogs shall eat whoever belongs to Ahab and dies in the city, and the birds of the air shall eat whoever dies in the field.'  But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel stirred him up.  And he behaved very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites had done, whom the Lord had cast our before the children of Israel."  Ahab had made idolatrous Baal worship the official religion of Israel, and prophets of the Lord like Elijah were being hunted down and killed!  Ahab and Israel had become thoroughly pagan. Ahab's sin was paganism.  Did you notice the influence of Ahab's murderous wife, a devoted Baal worshiper?  The text says that she "stirred Ahab up," and she was indeed a strong-willed woman!  Question: What stirs you up? What gets you going?  What excites you?  Be careful here because whatever it is, that very thing may be becoming your god and replace the living God!  Our 21st century offers us all kinds of pagan alternatives, and they're pushed every day right in our own living rooms!  A British reporter wrote this in June 2009: "Look out, here come the pagans.  It's late May in central London and a man is dressed as a tree, a witch in a velvet robe, and a woman pretending to be a raven with a long black beak are dancing through the streets of Holborn, with several hundred others, moving to the rhythm of a dozen loud drums.  They could wake the god of thunder with their noise but it's OK, the people at the back with the broadswords and shields are followers of Thor.  This is a parade to celebrate pagan pride, and it would be wise not to get in the way.  'We are moving into a new time,' says the leader, wearing a huge set of antlers.  'We are becoming more accepted. Paganism is reasserting itself.'  Paganism is casting its spell over more people now than ever before in the modern age.... There are said to be a quarter of a million practicing pagans in this country, double the number of a decade ago" (Moreton).  Jesus told us that we can't serve two masters!

Let's be stirred by our Lord, and not by paganism!


Whatever Happened to Sin?
  Nothing really.  It's still alive and well!

The question is: Will we recognize and do something about it before it's too late?  We can be much like the kings of Israel ; compromise, apostasy, permissiveness, materialism, secularism, and paganism are sins that can still be our spiritual downfall as well.  Sin IS a tragedy, but thankfully God has given us His Word, His Son, His Spirit, and His church to help us in our battles against it!  There is no need for anyone here (or anyone reading this) to be lost when Jesus comes again!  Let's repent and work together to overcome the sins which tempt us.  Confessing sin puts you on the offensive in this battle!

Please share your struggles with us today!  Jesus longs to bless you, but first you must turn from your sinful lifestyle, must put all your trust in Him, and must make Him your Lord through baptism in His name!  Join us in combating sin!