Scripture reading – 1 Kings 16
The focus of 1 Kings 16 is almost entirely upon the succession of kings who ruled the northern ten Tribes, known as Israel. As I study the rise and fall of kings in Israel, I am reminded the evidence of God’s sovereignty is ever present.
1 Kings 16 – A Succession of Wicked Kings
True to God’s words, the wickedness of the kings who ruled Israel did not go unpunished. After the ten Tribes in the north rebelled, and rejected Rehoboam as king, Jeroboam led the people to turn from the LORD, and made golden calves for the nation to worship. Jeroboam, the first king of northern Israel, failed to obey the LORD, and the prophet Ahijah had prophesied his lineage would be cut off (14:7-11). Although Nadab, Jeroboam’s son, reigned two years, he was assassinated by Baasha who then became the third king of Israel (15:25-28).
The LORD then sent the prophet Jehu to forewarn Baasha, because he had continued in the evil ways of Jeroboam, that his family would be cut off, and suffer the same judgment as Jeroboam’s household (16:1-6). Elah, the son of Baasha, became the fourth king of Israel, and reigned less than two years before he was killed by Zimri, who was captain of one-half of the chariots in Israel (16:8-10). Zimri became Israel’s fifth king, and he fulfilled Jehu’s prophecy, slaying all the household of Baasha (16:11-14). Zimri’s reign lasted only seven days (16:15), for the army of Israel heard how Elah had been slain, and chose one of their own to be king–“Omri, the captain” of the army of Israel (16:16). When Zimri understood the soldiers of Israel were loyal to Omri, he committed suicide, setting fire to the palace, and dying in the flames “for his sins which he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the LORD” (16:18-19).
Omri served Israel as that nation’s sixth king, and reigned twelve years (16:21-23). In the sixth year of his reign, he built a new capital city for Israel which he named Samaria (16:24). Of Omri we read, he “wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him” (16:25-26). Omri’s death set the stage for the rise of the most notorious king and queen in Israel’s history: “Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria: and Ahab his son reigned in his stead” (16:25, 28).
Closing thoughts – There are few in history whose infamy is so appalling that the mere mention of their name paints a picture of gross, notorious wickedness. King Ahab, and his wicked idolatrous wife Jezebel, will define the extremity of evil in Israel (16:29-33).
Ahab “did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him” (16:33). He forsook the LORD, and worshipped Baal, the pagan god of rain and the harvest (16:31). The depths of wickedness in Israel during the reign of Ahab and Jezebel would seem unimaginable, if it were not for the historical record the LORD has preserved for us in His Word.
Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith