Scripture reading – 1 Kings 16

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The focus of 1 Kings 16 is almost entirely on 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 not only of the pernicious bent of men for evil but also that the evidence of God’s sovereignty is ever-present.

1 Kings 16 – A Succession of Wicked Kings

Faithful to His word and promises, the wickedness of the kings who ruled Israel did not go unpunished by the LORD. 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 prophesied his lineage would be cut off (1 Kings 14:7-11). Nadab, Jeroboam’s son, reigned for two years and was assassinated by Baasha, who became the third king of the northern ten tribes known as Israel (1 Kings 15:25-28).

The LORD sent the prophet Jehu

1 Kings 16

Because Baasha continued in Jeroboam’s evil ways, the LORD sent the prophet Jehu to forewarn him that he and his family would be cut off. They would suffer the same judgment as Jeroboam’s household (1 Kings 16:1-6).

Although Elah, the son of Baasha, became the fourth king of Israel, he reigned for less than two years. He was assassinated by Zimri, the captain of half of the chariots in Israel (1 Kings 16:8-10). Zimri then became Israel’s fifth king, fulfilling Jehu’s prophecy that Baasha’s household would be cut off (1 Kings 16:11-14).

Zimri’s reign lasted seven days (1 Kings 16:15), for the army of Israel heard how Elah had been slain. Therefore, the people chose one of their own to be king–“Omri, the captain” of the army of Israel (1 Kings 16:16). When Zimri learned the soldiers of Israel were loyal to Omri, he committed suicide, set fire to the palace, and died in the flames “for his sins which he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the LORD” (1 Kings 16:18-19).

Omri went on to serve Israel as the sixth king and reigned for twelve years (1 Kings 16:21-23). In the sixth year of his reign, he purchased land and built a new capital for Israel, which he named Samaria (1 Kings 16:24). Yet, Omri “wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him” (1 Kings 16:25-26). Omri’s death set the stage for the rise of the most notorious king and queen in Israel’s history, for “Ahab his son reigned in his stead” (1 Kings 16:28).

Ahab and Jezebel

Closing thoughts

There are few in history whose infamy is so appalling that mentioning their name paints a picture of gross, notorious wickedness. King Ahab and his wicked, idolatrous wife, Jezebel, would define the extremity of evil in Israel (1 Kings 16:29-33). So, we read that Ahab “did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him” (1 Kings 16:33). He forsook the LORD. He worshipped Baal, the pagan god of rain and the harvest (1 Kings 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. 1 Kings 16:34 concludes our study with evidence of how far Israel had descended into wickedness. For in Ahab’s day, the city of Jericho was rebuilt, which Joshua had cursed (Joshua 6:26).

Warning: No nation or people will escape the judgment of a Just God.

Questions to ponder –

1) What sins did Baasha commit that the LORD sent the prophet Jehu to confront and condemn him? (1 Kings 16:2)

2) What curse did Baasha’s family suffer because of his sins? (1 Kings 16:3-4)

3) What did Zimri do that fulfilled God’s judgment against Baasha? (1 Kings 16:11-12)

4) How did Zimri die after the people learned he had assassinated Elah, the king of Israel, the son of Baasha? (1 Kings 16:16, 18)

5) What was the name of the new capital of Israel’s northern ten tribes? (1 Kings 16:24)

6) Besides worshipping the golden calves of Jeroboam, what was the name of the god Ahab added to Israel’s idolatry? (1 Kings 16:32-33)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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