The first half of 1 Kings traces the life of David's successor and son Solomon. Under his leadership Israel rose to the peak of her size and glory. Solomon's great accomplishments, including the unsurpassed splendor of the temple which he constructed in Jerusalem, brought him worldwide fame and respect. However, Solomon's zeal for God diminished in his later years, as pagan wives turned his heart away from wholehearted worship of God. As a result, the king with the divided heart leaves behind a divided kingdom, and 1 Kings then traces the twin histories of two sets of kings and two nations of disobedient people.

Like the books of Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings were originally one book. The division into two books was first made in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) and then in the Latin Vulgate, and English translations have followed suit.


The author of 1 and 2 Kings is unknown, although Jewish tradition ascribes the work to the prophet Jeremiah. All that can be said with certainty is that Kings was compiled from various sources and written from a prophetic perspective.

The author mentions three primary sources. The "book of the acts of Solomon" (1Ki_11:41) appears to have contained annals, biographical data, and excerpts from the temple archives. The "book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel" (1Ki_14:19; 1Ki_15:7) appears to have recorded each king's political activities and was preserved in official state archives. The third source, the "book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah" (1Ki_14:29; 1Ki_15:7), was also an official state record preserved in the royal archives.


The grammar and style of the Hebrew and the contents of the books of Kings indicate that this work was completed during the Babylonian captivity. Kings was completed after 561 B.C. since this is the date of the last recorded event (2Ki_25:27-30). Because there is no mention of Cyrus and his liberating edict of 539 B.C., Kings was probably completed prior to this last date.

First Kings covers the 120 years from the beginning of Solomon's reign in 971 B.C. through Ahaziah's reign ending in 851 B.C. The key date is 931 B.C., the year the kingdom was divided into the northern nation of Israel and the southern nation of Judah.

Themes and Literary Structure

The book of 1 Kings divides clearly into two main sections: the united kingdom under Solomon (chs. 1-11), and the divided kingdom (chs. 12-22).

First Kings provides a prophetically oriented evaluation of the spiritual and moral causes that led to the political and economic demise of the two kingdoms. The material is too selective to be considered a biography of the kings. For example, Omri was one of the northern kingdom's most important rulers from a political point of view, but because of his moral corruption, his achievements are dismissed in a mere eight verses (1Ki_16:21-28). The lives of these kings are used to teach that faithfulness to the covenant and observance of God's law produces blessing, but apostasy is rewarded by divine judgment.

The first half of 1 Kings deals with the splendor of the Solomonic era. Solomon typifies Christ in a number of ways. His fabled wisdom points ahead to "Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God" (1Co_1:30). Solomon's fame, glory, wealth, and honor foreshadow Christ in His kingdom. Solomon's rulership brings knowledge, peace, and worship. However, despite Solomon's splendor, the Son of Man later says of His coming, "indeed a greater than Solomon is here" (Mat_12:42).

Much stress in the books of Kings is placed upon the prophetic ministries of Elijah and Elisha, who served as the links between the earlier period and the era of the writing prophets.